One of Dayton's most famous artists, Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist and playwright.
On the anniversary of his death -- Feb. 9 -- we thought we'd share his most popular poem, "Sympathy."
You'll likely recognize a line or two -- "I know why the caged bird sings" ended up becoming the title of Maya Angelou's autobiography of the same name.
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!
Source: Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2004)