This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Dunbar’s Life Revealed In His Poem “Sympathy”

1019 words - 5 pages

In the poem “Sympathy”, Paul Laurence Dunbar expresses his frustrations at the
limitations that his race, culture, and society put on his talent and aspirations through metaphors and word choice. “Sympathy” is a poem not only about a caged bird but about Dunbar’s life in general. Dunbar desires freedom and writes as if no living person could ever dwell peacefully in captivity. The bird is a symbolic representation of Dunbar’s own grievances and his own longing to be able to experience the true beauty of the world around him. It also shows, according to the poet’s background, the trials and struggles he endured. Dunbar’s poem reflects in a tragic way, the horrors of captivity in his life.
...view middle of the document...

His metaphor of a cage is a sense of entrapment or imprisonment, restricting him the opportunities whites receive. Dunbar was an elevator operator, possibly feeling trapped in the booth only to get a glimpse of sunlight when the doors opened and watching the world around him move freely. Myra McMurry suggests he is being “institutionalized…denying his true identity” (106) as a Black Poet. He is forced to sell his writings in the elevator for a dollar in order to become established (University of Dayton). A scar becomes a part of Dunbar’s life. He writes, “old old scars” (Dunbar 12) which suggests the reality of remembrance of African American struggling to overcome slavery. His scars, skin color, are visible and have made him self-conscious of his race. His knowledge of slavery was secondhand, but he is very aware of discrimination firsthand. The scars become a metaphor of painful pasts and a reflection of his life expressing the defeat of racism.
Dunbar’s specific word choice creates a picture of both freedom and slavery in his life.
The poem “Sympathy” uses the images of freedom with words like sun…wind…river…stream” (Dunbar 2-4) becoming a beautiful image of nature. This descriptive writing figuratively paints a picture describing the aspect of a scene allowing the reader to experience the image. Dunbar represents the smallest types of freedoms as being restricted from him. In the 1890s, “public facilities were segregated along with freedom of safety from being lynched” (O’Malley). He is a notable writer but is held back because of his race. When speaking of Dunbar as an African American writer, Langston Hughes replied “Dunbar as an example of the hardships and obstacles confronted by a black writer” (Li 388). Dunbar uses words like “pain…bruised…sore…beats” (Dunbar 12, 14, 16) to present to the reader the torments he has endured waiting to be truly free. He feels as if the world has treated him unfairly and unjustly, by limiting him into a so...

Other Essays Like Dunbar’S Life Revealed in His Poem “Sympathy”

Death Isnt a Stage Where Actors Go Down to Change

3809 words - 16 pages side in the poem with the positive actions of the mother in this horrific and repulsive situation. I greatly respect the mother’s spirit as she is holding on to her son till the last minute, and it is unattainable to understand how hard it is for this mother to cope with the countdown of her child‘s life. The mother’s persistence of keeping her child calm and not making him feel that his end is approaching was her aim. But she could not lie to

Katrina Poem - Bruce Dawe Essay

836 words - 4 pages and is now battling for her life, so obviously the tone of the poem will be sad, despairing, and sympathetic because the reader shows sympathy towards Katrina and her parents. Her parents are struggling as they cannot help her overcome this obstacle in her life. ‘Katrina’ is dedicated to Dawe’s infant daughter, who contracted gastroenteritis. Katrina, a 2 month old baby was suffering on the family trip to Malaysia. Unfortunately, the whole

"My Papa's Waltz" Poem Explication

463 words - 2 pages , "My mother's countenance could not un-frown itself." By this the author means that even tolerance can't handle such a person when they are under the influence. The author provides very brief words throughout the poem to quickly get his poem's meaning across to the reader. Speaker's Attitude: The speaker evokes sympathy as they read the poem. What evokes such a tone could possibly be the mood. The mood of this poem is sad and pitiful. Words in

The Armers Bride

787 words - 4 pages The Farmer's Bride by Charlotte Mew. This poem is about a rushed marriage with the sense of a forced marriage. The poet never achieved much success although acclaim from other successful poets. She spent most of her life in poverty. The two subjects in this poem are the farmer and his wife. The speaker throughout the poem is the farmer. The first three lines suggest that the farmer was too busy with farming to spend time with his wife. The

Dulce Est Decorum Est

1490 words - 6 pages because they are not in control of them any longer as they ‘marched asleep’. The same sacrifices were also made by the soldiers in the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. By illustrating the agony and distress the soldiers went through, Owen successfully maintains textual integrity throughout his poetry. Furthermore, the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” exposes the wasted life of the young soldiers that died in the war. The poem highlights the way in

Seasons of Change

1246 words - 5 pages Seasons of Change Poetry uses many elements to convey meaning and theme in an often times consolidated form. The use of such elements, such as form, imagery, and symbolism, enable the author to evoke specific feelings and thoughts in the reader. Gerard Manley Hopkins uses elements like alliteration and diction to juxtapose life and death in his poem “Spring and Fall.” The poem compares a young girl’s sadness over the changing of seasons

The Hawk Essay

1065 words - 5 pages off heads ¡V the allotment of death¡¨ conveys a tone of malice and savageness. Thus the idea of hawk is critical. On the other hand, Jeffers admires the courage of the hawk in his poem. He describes the submission in the bird, and the agony if experiences since it is physically stronger than other creatures but is now powerless. There is a sense of pity and sympathy as Jeffers describes the internal strength the hawk tries to maintain. Admiration

Do You Like the Poetry of Derek Mahon, and Why?

1180 words - 5 pages work that Mahon tells us “Even on cold/ Mornings he is up at six with a block of wood.” Mahon looks with pity upon another elderly man in another poem of his, AFTER THE TITANIC. However Ismay, the central character of the poem, does not begin the poem an old man. Mahon pities Ismay because he is burdened with shame and depression for escaping the Titanic as it sunk. His life is defined by this shame and depression despite his act being a

The Chimney Sweeper

1176 words - 5 pages will have a brighter future in eternity. Blake expresses his poem in first person, as a young chimney sweeper. This gives his poetic voice creditability because the subject of the poem is chimney sweepers. In addition, using first person creates a deeper sense of sympathy in the reader: When my mother died I was very young. And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry “`weep! `weep! `weep! `weep! So your chimneys I sweep

Poem Analysis

919 words - 4 pages and long lasting love for the speaker. Additionally, "Annabel Lee" is also a symbol of Poe's real life. He lost his wife Virginia; then he wrote this poem as reminder of his true love. The words "night" and "angels" also illustrate the symbolism of the dark side of speaker’s mind and enemy of their love (15, 21, 30). The author uses the phrases "by the sea" and “in her tomb" to explain his unfilled mind and his loneliness after the death of his

Thomas Hardy "In Time Of The Breaking Of Nations" & "Going And Staying" (Both Are Available At Bartleby.Com)

309 words - 2 pages battles. Instead of paying attention to the revolution, Hardy expresses that the war deserved no special attention.In "Going and Staying," Hardy expresses a lighter, romantic side. Unlike his apathetic disposition in the former poem, he shows a carefree and appreciative side to life. He seems to value life on a much more deeper side, praising nature's beauty and wonders. In the poem, he emphasizes the cycles of nature and of life, which defend his

Related Papers

What Techniques Does Seamus Heaney Use To Create A Vivid And Unusual Image Of A Fish In His Poem, ‘Trout’?

781 words - 4 pages The theme of this poem is about a ‘Trout.’ We can picture the texture, movement shape and size of the fish with the variety of similes and metaphors he uses. The tone of the poem is awe and admiration and delight in the skill of the fish. Yet, we also get a notion of fear of the power of the trout. The writer has made us get an unusual image of the trout by comparing the somewhat harmless trout to weapon, thus making the trout seem powerful and

In ‘Kubla Khan’ How Does Coleridge Use Language To Bring His Vision Of The River And Its Environs To Life?

1023 words - 5 pages In ‘Kubla Khan’ how does Coleridge use language to bring his vision of the river and its environs to life? Coleridge uses language in his poem ‘Kubla Khan’ as an aid to the reader, to help them understand the vision he saw in a dream he claims to have experienced while under the influence of Opium. Although, some people now believe that he lied by saying this. He probably just wrote it because he felt like it and disguised it in

The Connection Between Edna St. Vincent Millay's Poem 'first Fig' And (Teenage) Life In The Twenties. I Wrote This In The 9th Grade, So It's Not My Best Work

442 words - 2 pages Edna St. Vincent Millay was a poet in the 1920s. She wrote mainly about celebrating youth, the freedom, and independence the youths had during these "Roaring Twenties." This essay will tell what her poem 'First Fig' reveals about a teenages life in 1920's America.The Poem: My candle burns at both ends;It will not last all night;But ah, my foes, and my friends---It gives a lovely light!The poem 'First Fig,' written by Edna St. Vincent Millay

"An Interdisciplinary Approach To The Study Of The Life Of Siddhartha Gautama, Focusing On His Moral And Ethical Context In Terms Of Actions, Influence And Response"

1532 words - 7 pages empty constraint accomplished little in life. Thus, through this rejection of aesthetic mortification and worldly pleasures, enlightenment was obtained and the middle path of salvation was revealed. As quoted by Gautama himself, this was the "voluntary exit from life, from the circle of sorrow; in a noble but entirely unparalleled act of renunciation of all- that such a teaching leaves little room for ambition - for self activated activity