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Sympathy, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar was one the first influential black poets in American literature. In its entirety, Dunbar's literary body has been acclaimed as an impressive representation of black life in turn-of-the-century America. (This annotation contains an image)
The word "alas" is an exclamation meaning "unfortunately."
What literary device does Dunbar use in the highlighted lines?
This poem contains an extended metaphor. Watch this video to learn more about two important and similar literary devices: similes and metaphor. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Dunbar refer to the bars of the cage as "cruel"?
Please explain what the title of the poem refers to.
The speaker of the poem repeats over and over that he or she understands the caged bird. Do YOU know how the caged bird feels, or why he "beats his wing"?
The tone of a piece of literature is the speaker's attitude towards the subject. Please describe the tone of this poem, using at least one example from the poem.
Throughout the poem, we get a sense of the way the caged bird feels. Which of the following accurately describes the way it feels?
Dunbar is using the bird and the cage as metaphors. Please explain what the bird and the cage stand for.
In 1969, the African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou wrote an autobiography entitled "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature helped her overcome racism and trauma. Angelou also has a poem by the same name, which you can read below. (This annotation contains a link)