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Not They Who Soar Analysis

Author: Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar Type: Poetry Views: 476

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Not they who soar, but they who plod

Their rugged way, unhelped, to God

Are heroes; they who higher fare,

And, flying, fan the upper air,

Miss all the toil that hugs the sod.

'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod,

Whose feet have pressed the path unshod,

May smile upon defeated care,

Not they who soar.

High up there are no thorns to prod,

Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod

To turn the keenness of the share,

For flight is ever free and rare;

But heroes they the soil who've trod,

Not they who soar!


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: "Not They Who Soar" :.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose parents were emancipated slaves, references not so much enslavement in "Not They Who Soar," but former slaves who have "defeated care." By this he refers to slaves who have escaped by the grueling nocturnal forays into freedom; this usually meant Canada, where they often congregated in towns such as Buxton. Dunbar references the lack of shoes ("feet...unshod") and the all-too-common beatings slaves undeservedly received ("felt the rod"), after identifying them as heroes; not the typical 21st century picture of a hero. Dunbar also references boulders (symbolizing the hardships of slavery) that "turn the keenness of the share," literally meaning dulling the cutting edge of a plow, but symbolizing the dulling of the hope of slaves under the yoke of slavery. Dunbar realizes heroes are people who we can draw inspiration from in our daily lives, not the famous people of today "who higher fare," and who so much (too much) of today's youth identify as heroes. Dunbar's recurring message is that only people who have experienced slavery can truly appreciate freedom.

| Posted on 2007-10-05 | by a guest

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