In the first stanza of the poem "The Haunted Oak" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, an unnamed narrator asks the oak why it has a bare and frightening appearance. The rest of the poem is the answer, told from the viewpoint of the oak tree. It explains that it was once alive, full of sap, and covered with green leaves. However, the event that brought on its curse was a lynching. An innocent man was hung from one of its boughs. A group of men, including a judge, a doctor, and a minister, came to the jail where the man was being kept. Pretending to be his friends, they persuaded the jailer to give him into their care for supposed protection. Instead of helping him, though, they brought him to the oak tree and hanged him from it. The oak tree felt the agony of the "guiltless man" as he died, and now it is forever barren and haunted.
This poem has numerous examples of the sensory details of sight, hearing, and touch. Most of them are from the perspective of the oak tree. For instance, there is the image of the oak tree itself. In its innocence before the crime is committed, it is "green as the best," and sap runs freely in its veins. However, after the heinous murder committed on its bough, it is "bare, so bare" and "dried and dead."
The oak mentions what it hears several times in its story. It questions why the dog howls throughout the night and "why does the night wind wail?" These sounds seem to be lamentations of mourning. It hears the dying man's sigh and his "gurgling moan."
As far as touch is concerned, the oak remembers the rope sliding against its bark, the weight of the man as he is hanging, and "the throe of his final woe," which refers to the involuntary trembling of the man just as he is dying.
We can see, then, that the poet makes frequent use of vivid sensory details as the oak tells its terrible tale. Knowing the story behind the poem and after rereading the sensory descriptions, give your own impressions of how these details make you feel.