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NAME: _________________________

Lyric poems (like the one below) have a musical rhythm/rhyme, and their topics often explore
romantic feelings or other strong emotions.
Sympathy
BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR (1872-1906)
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his hearts deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings
I know why the caged bird sings!

(5)

(10)

(15)

(20)

Poem Analysis Questions:

1) At the end of each line above, write the letter for the RHYME SCHEME (throughout the
entire poem).
2) Musical rhythm can be created in a poem not only by keeping a pattern in the rhyming words,
but also
by keeping a pattern for the number of syllables in each line and/or stanza. Count the
number of
syllables in each line of the poem, and write the number at the end of the line.
3) This poem was published in 1899 -- 70 years BEFORE Maya Angelou wrote her
autobiography book
titled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (published in 1969) about growing up as a black
girl in the
South. Maya Angelous book title obviously refers back to the famous line from this earlier
poem.
What type of LITERARY DEVICE is it called when one work of literature mentions
or refers to
something well-known from another literary work like Angelous book title
does?
A) aphorism
B) allusion
C) metaphor
D) plagiarism
4) The IMAGERY in the first stanza seems to indicate that it is what season of the year?
_______________________
5) A) Line 4 combines two similar figures of speech simile and metaphor to compare a
river or
stream to __________________ .
B) Explain what the thing you identified in Question 5A would have in common with a
river or stream:
6) From the phrase old, old scars in Line 12, the reader can infer what -- or draw what
conclusions

about the bird?


7) In lines 18-20, the poet says the birds carol (or song) IS a prayer and plea to Heaven.
This kind of
direct comparison, saying one thing is another in order to make a special point about what
they have in
common, is called a ...
A) simile
B) allusion
C) metaphor
D) analogy
8) The poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, was one of Americas earliest black writers. His parents had
been slaves before
the Civil War of the early 1860s. With that in mind, why do you think his poem is titled
Sympathy? Explain the
SYMBOLISM, or deeper meaning, behind the title.

WRITING TASK: On the back, write a paragraph of 75 words or more OR a poem of


whatever length is effective about a time or situation that makes/made you feel caged.