Paul Laurence Dunbar: Poet and Park

With this being National Poetry Month and National Parks Week, We thought we would honor both by honoring Ohio’s own Paul Laurence Dunbar. His house is free to visit, and part of the Dayton Aviation National Historical Park. Here is his most famous poem.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906

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 its 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!


Western Reserve Historical Society History Center


Rating: ****

Address: 10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Website: http://www.wrhs.org/plan-your-visit/history-center/

Review: The Western Reserve Historical Society is more than just a museum. For this article we are only reviewing the museum. The museum contains many parts: Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel, Browns Town 1964, Bringham-Hanna & Mckinney House, Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, In Grand Style: Fashions form 1870s to 1930s, Kidzbits Family Education Center, and Research Library. Some of these are exhibits and some are permanent areas.

The museum is maybe one of the hidden gems of the Cleveland Area. The museum a very good way to learn about the history of the Cleveland area. The museum has something for all tastes. Kids will love the kids area and adults might like the classic cars.

The upstairs area of the museum houses lots of aviation memorabilia and other interesting artifacts. The downstairs houses Crawford Aviation Collection. This collection has cars that range from old to newer. There are race cars, protype cars, and your typical classic car. This was an area that one can walk around in for a while. Even a non car person would find something to love.

The museum does give tours of the Hanna & Mckinney House, which is housed inside the museum. Their are tours daily to see the house. Tours are included in admission. The house is set up with rooms that represent different historical periods. Having the house lead by a tour guide is a good idea because you learn so much more about the house than if you went on your own. The house is a great place to see how people once lived, especially how the well to do lived. Make sure to sign up in the gift shop for a house tour as early as possible. The tours are limited and can fill up fast.

This museum is bigger than it lets on from the outside. You snake down one exhibit hall to another, with more to see. The Browns area is great, probably better if you are a true browns fan, but it is nice to see the history. The invention exhibit area was another great exhibit. It was nice to see some local inventions. It is hard to talk about museum exhibits in a review, as they might change, but these two exhibits were fun to see.

Their is a grand carousel to ride. This carousel comes straight out of 1910. We can not do the carousel justice in our description, so after your done reading this review hop on over to the carousel’s website page.


Call before hand and time your visit to go along with when a house tour is happening. This way you can see the museum after or before your tour and not have to wait around.

If your coming to Cleveland put the Western Reserve Historical Society History Center on your itinerary, you will find something new to learn.

This museum does cost along with a separate parking fee. Two carousel rides are included with admission.