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 heart’s deep core,   

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings— 

I know why the caged bird sings!

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