Paul Laurence Dunbar

Topics: Poetry, Stanza, Rhyme Pages: 2 (526 words) Published: December 15, 2013
An Explication of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Sympathy”
The poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is clearly stating that he wants to be free. This poem was published in 1895, and at this time conditions were horrible for African Americans. Dunbar felt trapped like the bird in the cage. There were not many educated African American men at this time, but Dunbar was an outstanding writer. This man wants to be free, and this theme is described through the explication of form, prosody, and symbolism.

This man wants to be free, and this theme is described through the explication of form. Dunbar writes this poem in lyric poem form. This form was used often in this period of time, and most commonly used by contemporary poets. This form has no limited stanzas, but usually no more than five or six. Dunbar used eight lines in each stanza. The rhyme scheme in this poem has rhythm, and each stanza rhyme scheme is abaabcc form. Dunbar used metaphors in this poem to. “And the faint perfume from its chalice steals” (Dunbar 6). Poet is comparing the unfolding petals of a flower to a chalice. This particular form gives great detail in a puzzled manner. It keeps the readers interested into the next line of the poem.

This man wants to be free, and this theme is described through the explication of prosody. Lines one through six contains four feet, which creates a tetrameter. Some are anapests, and majority of the feet in the tetrameters and trimeters are iambs. Last line of each stanza contains three feet, creating a trimeter. The last line of each stanza is masculine. Therefore; only the final syllables are involved in the rhyme. This shows that the poet knows exactly how the caged bird feels from personal experiences locked up. Dunbar displays alliteration in lines three and five. Line three states, “When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass” (Dunbar 3). Line five states, “When the first bird sings and the first bud opes” (Dunbar 5). He wants to experience...
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