Sympathy BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/paul-laurence-dunbar
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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!

How interacting with others makes us more creative

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I was always aware that meeting people who enjoyed conversation was good for generating new ideas for writing and for living in new ways and that it is two way
But I find, in addition, writing to friends can have a bigger impact than I would have believed.One of my friends I knew at University and we have quite a lot on common including coming from the same part of England.Yet because our interests only overlap, each of us might say something unexpected or new which makes the other think
Another friend is Australian and the vocabulary there is slightly different.However his background in terms of religion and being another “lapsed” Catholic gives us common ground.I find that without conscious effort both of these people affect the words I use when I am writing.I am surprised what a big effect it can have.
Yet I have another friend who is not a lapsed Catholic and who is interested in the meaning of life and has studied and written about things I would find very painful like trauma and the holocaust.Yet his ideas give me new trains of thought and remind me of how different friends can be.He is still a Christian in a meaningful way.
I have one school friend and it’s really nice to talk to someone who has the same accent and knows about your adolescent years
The ideal seems to be someone who is different but not too different and that you need to feel a sense of trust with them.And they need to have an interest in you and what you do
As we get older we might mix less with people unlike ourselves so I’d advise people to at least talk to people with different ideas,views, religion or lack of.
I have a very close friend who is stunningly knowledgeable about both Art and Music and we share a common interest in cooking and music.I have someone I can ask for help or information as I am not very well up in Art History.
I imagine again it is easy to stay friends with people who are very similar to you.I am lucky as I taught people from many parts of the world so I am happy now to meet people who have moved here from other countries or people who have a different ethnic background.Because even a slightly different perspective on the world is beneficial especially if you want to write
My husband was critical of writing and he sometimes said to me if I read him one of my poems
Did YOU write that?
I think he didn’t believe that starting to write poetry after being a mathematician was a very bright idea.But on the whole he did encourage me, mainly to make me write more stories about Stan and his cat Emile and Dave the paramedic
I also recall now writing a long poetic email to a foreign friend.He wrote back,Where have you copied this writing from?
I answered,I wrote it myself.He never responded
I had the same thing when I wrote a poem about numbers which I sent to a mathematical friend.He wrote back saying,I wonder who wrote that
Don’t let it get you down if people unintentionally seem a bit surprised you can do things they didn’t know you could.
But, on the other hand, be aware some people might be envious if you learn new skills and they may say really offensive words to you.So ignore them.
I imagine then that since talking/writing to others affects my poetry it must affect our minds and so I think it’s a good idea to do new things or even walk a different way to town and go into different shops.Go to see a film that is not the type you usually see
Take an interest in people of different religions/ occupations; difference, even slight, improves how our minds work
Even using social media helps our brains as we age.So I read.
Naturally we want stability and familiarity in our lives so I am only talking of adding to that or even talking about a different topic than you usually do.Women are interested in more than recipes and men can be interested in cookery or sewing or mathematics as well as politics and drinking whiskey
The more different people and views, the better we learn always remembering a basis of trust,kindness and respect for the other person’s privacy and need for private time even if you live with them.We all need our “sacred space”
If you are shy, tell yourself people will benefit from meeting you if you can join in a conversation with just a few words.Lots of us blush or get weak knees in certain settings.Recall most people don’t notice as much as we imagine and that a lively spirit makes one beautiful

“Ruling” a democracy,they lie

Anxiety’s a sickness like a cough
There’s no reason for the nerves and butterflies
So,we should all enjoy a gruesome laugh
When we read Trump’s tweets and hear his lies

His finger on a button like a plate
At any moment nuclear war might start
We feel the terror in our very hearts
As we feed out children,quite distraught

He said his button like his manhood’s large
We can’t see the monkey playing ball
Will he share a selfie, gross image?
Will he like an apple take a fall?

Every day we see the fruits of war
Children screaming,starving filled with fear
Will it ever end until we are
Blown up by a bomb in someone’s car

Then we see our leaders fight like snakes
Poisoning each other as they speak
Forgetting that more evil may awake
Wishing to ensnare the poor and meek

“Ruling” a democracy,they lie
They are there to steal and kill. we cry
If we choose one evil,one still hides
Waiting till it too can get onboard

Ignorant, we vote against our selves
Imagining the Empire still remains
Ignoring, we make worse the nation’s health
And makes us suffer panic and self blame

Is it sick to see reality
To be nervous when jobs are cruelty?
A courier died for he had to be
Out delivering parcels DPD’s

The poor live as if forever tense
Some poor folk are better at pretense
Hands most always tight with fingers clenched
While flight and fight make nonsense of our sense

No reverie or dream survives intact

From screen to scream the mind receives impacts
A murder or a rape or Trump’s strange tweets.
No reverie or dream survives intact

So we enjoy the hit and torture wracked?
At any hour excitement will one greet
From screen to scream the mind receives impact

And into human minds this dross is packed;
It leaves no space for silence or retreat
No reverie or dream survives intact

We will no longer suffer from our lacks
The enemy, old boredom, we defeat
From screen to scream the mind receives impact

Will one day the screen take a great crack
We will see that nothing dwells beneath
No reverie or dream survives intact

Allow us all to suffer life’s own griefs
Before we fall to earth like old brown leaves
From screen to scream our heart with pain contracts
No reverie or dream survives intact

I see the old fall and the new erupt.

I see the old fall and the new erupt
Like new growth in plants from rain and heat
But what is new may also be corrupt

Transitions need not be so stark,abrupt
But like a gentle tide they kind can sweep
I see the old drop and the new erupt

Life does better when shocks don’t disrupt
Though evil in disguise may stealthy creep
All that’s new may also be corrupt

Are we in this race for power still trapped
When nowhere may security take sleep
I see the old fall and the new erupt

From our hearts and minds, good will is sucked
So we lose the power to think and act
All that’s new may also be corrupt

No longer are we agents armed with maps
Agency first slumped and then it lapsed
I see the old doomed and the new excite
But what is new or strange may not be right