Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

At a point in time in the life of every person, a feeling of being trapped or stuck occurs. The poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar represents the speaker’s vast knowledge of the feeling of being enclosed in a place where they are tremendously uncomfortable.
The speaker explains the actions of a bird trapped in a small cage and explains the motives behind the actions. The speaker reveals that the song the caged bird sings is not a melody exuberating joy, but a cry begging for freedom. The title of the poem, “Sympathy”, represents the feeling that the speaker has toward a bird enclosed in a cage.
The speaker relates to the bird by repeating the words “I know” and following them with an action of the bird, revealing that he has also experienced similar events that caused him to feel like the bird. He knows the pain of the small bird when nature is taking its beautiful course right outside of the window, but feeling the balmy sun on his face is impossible.
The speaker uses a simile to compare the flowing river to a “stream of glass”, implanting in the mind of the reader an image of nature at its finest, but the flowing river is out of reach for the caged bird.
The speaker also uses alliteration of the letter “s” when he says “the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,” In doing this, the sound of wind is embodied when the poem is read aloud, as the letter “s” sounds similar to the soft rush of wind.
Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’ is a poem expressing Mackellar’s deep passion and love for her country, Australia. The whole poem’s intention seems to evoke the sense of praising for the country and express Mackellar’s deep relationship and passion with her land.
Imagery is used consistently right through the poem to evoke sensory experiences and to endorse the theme. For instance: ‘A stark white ring-barked forest’- ‘the sapphire misted mountains’ and ‘the hot gold lush of noon’. All these appeal to the readers senses and places brilliant visual images in our minds by illuminating the various features of the country, from the perspective of the poems persona.

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