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Analysis and comments on I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou

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Comment 96 of 526, added on February 3rd, 2007 at 6:48 PM.

this is the most awesome poem i ever read, it has some power that touches
one's felling, wow!!!!!!!

lilu
Comment 95 of 526, added on May 1st, 2006 at 3:43 PM.

The poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou is poignant
poem that revolves around the theme of freedom. This piece declares that
even though there are social injustices and inequalities within life, hope
and faith in the American Dream can overcome the obstacles of isolation and
seclusion. It is a tale of sorrow and desire that captures the lives of two
contrasting birds. While the free soars the open sky, the caged bird’s
“wings are clipped and his feet are tied” (Angelou, line 6). The ungrateful
free bird never needs to worry about its future, however, the caged bird
can only hope and sing for a fruitful future. When reading, the reader
realizes that Angelou believes in equality for all of mankind and she truly
knows why the caged bird sings.
Through the use of a lyrical poem, Angelou conveys to the reader a story
of a hopeful caged bird and an unappreciative free bird. In the first line
of the poem, Angelou utilizes assonance, the repetition of a vowel sounds,
in saying “A free bird leaps on the back of the wind” (Angelou, line 1).
Angelou also writes the poem as an enjambment because each stanza is one
continuing sentence portraying the life of the caged bird to the life of
the free bird: “A free bird leaps on the back of the wind/ and floats
downstream till the current ends/ and dips his wing in the orange suns rays
and dares to claim the sky” (Angelou, lines 1-3). Moreover, Angelou uses
alliteration when saying, “shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”(Angelou,
line 15). Throughout the poem, Angelou writes two stanzas containing three
lines followed by a refrain, which she does twice. In doing so, she evokes
hope and suggests to the reader that the refrain is the most powerful
stanza in the poem. When Angelou says, “The free bird thinks of another
breeze/ and the trade wind soft through the sighting trees/ and the fat
worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own” (Angelou,
lines 11-13), the reader discovers the “AAB” rhyme scheme. However, in the
refrain, Angelou uses an “AAAB” rhyme scheme. The last word of the refrain
breaks off from the rhyme with the last word being far from the original
rhyme: “trill, still, hill, freedom.” The non-rhyme represents the caged
bird’s potential to break away from those accepted ideas that white is the
dominant race and perhaps rise to that desired level of equality and
justice. By switching between the life of the free bird and the life of the
caged bird, the reader can clearly see the difference between the two
bird’s lives. With Angelou’s use of a lyrical poem and sophisticated rhyme,
the reader can appreciate the poem’s deeper meaning.
Through the use of diction and figurative language, Angelou portrays two
opposite lives in the same society. In the first stanza, Maya Angelou uses
imagery to show the reader how the soul is always alive and filled with
excitement when it is free and unbounded from impulsiveness. Angelou uses
strong images to invoke such thoughts of being imprisoned as well. When
Angelou expresses the free bird “Leaps on the back of the wind” and “dips
his wings in the orange sun rays,” she enriches the reader’s sense to
reflect on the thought of being free and alive. Angelou’s choice of diction
reflects that simple, natural elements of nature represent a visual
playground for the bird. These words that are transcribed by Angelou give
the reader a colorful feeling of happiness. In the next stanza, however,
Angelou writes in depressing and stark voice. These images and metaphors
are completely opposite from those of the first stanza. “Narrow cage”,
“bars of rage” and “wings are clipped” express a feeling of terror and
fear. The irony and paradox shown in this stanza are displayed in magnitude
because of the pleasant images in the first stanza. “Bars of rage” is a
metaphor that represents the imprisonment of innocent slaves throughout
history. This unpleasant dissimilarity provokes a feeling of melancholy.
“Grave of dreams”, also a metaphor, creates a sense of sorrow because the
imagery echo’s itself to despair and misery. The irony that extends the
poem is the tragic fact that the bird still “sings of freedom”. In the last
stanza “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but
longed for still” represents that even thou it is inescapable, its dreams
and future are still there edging the fact that they might seem impossible.
The poem is a contrast between freedom and enslavement in a single society.
While the free bird lives a life of ignorance towards its freedom as it
simply “leaps on the back of the wind and dips his wing in the orange sun
rays,” on the contrary, the caged bird can hope for freedom. The caged bird
personified as the plight of African Americans and other discriminated
groups, while the free bird that “thinks of another breeze and fat worms
waiting,” symbolizes any wealthy or free person. Throughout her social and
political analogy, Angelou presents to her readers a poem that provokes
motley emotions.
When looking at “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” it is evident that the
American Dream of freedom is the underlying theme. While there are those
who take their freedom for granted, there are others, trapped and
segregated, that “sing of freedom.” Angelou wrote this poem in response to
the discrimination and segregation that African Americans faced since their
arrival in America. She speaks of the two different birds to convey the
message that even though there may be isolation between groups, one is
never more dominant than the other, and therefore they have a right to
freedom and hope. She is so passionate about the terrible situation because
Angelou is the caged bird, and she feels that with her cry for free she
will be free. Angelou believes that there are social inequalities and
unfair discriminations in America, which contrasts with the common view of
the American Dream. However, throughout the poetry piece, Angelou instills
in her readers the sense of hope and freedom that is an endless part of the
true American Dream. So while the caged bird “sings with a fearful trill of
things unknown” and the free bird “thinks of another breeze,” it is
apparent that the American Dream is attained by those who have hope.
/>

Diego from United States
Comment 94 of 526, added on April 19th, 2006 at 4:46 PM.

this poem really touched my heart and opened my eyes to how life really is.
This was poem put it in words that no other could have. Its just plain and
simply beautiful.

rebecca from United States
Comment 93 of 526, added on April 18th, 2006 at 4:29 PM.

Im doing a couple paragraphs on a poem of my choice and I absolutly love
this poem. Its beuatiful and it compares to how the two bird live
differently. :) I love your poem!:D

Rhiannon Taylor from United States
Comment 92 of 526, added on April 17th, 2006 at 5:32 PM.

this poem made me cry!:( its beautiful and sadly kind of true. it should
hav been number three in the top 40 >:|

bridget from Canada
Comment 91 of 526, added on April 2nd, 2006 at 12:35 AM.

I wish to comment Maya for the wonderful poem. I am trying to write an
English paper about a character who has great influence in the lives of
many especially the minority.
Going through Maya's work, I couldn't find anthing better than this. It
very inspiring........

Benvictor Kipkorir Sang from Kenya
Comment 90 of 526, added on March 30th, 2006 at 4:52 AM.

A social and political analogy can clearly be drawn from the poem.
However, it also illustrates Maya's very personal feelings about herself.
As a young child, Maya felt she was very different from others. She
srruggled with deep pain from being rejected and abandoned by their
parents. Touts and negative comments of others caused her believe she was
ugly and unworthy. And she was a victim of secual abuse. The caged bird
is Maya. As you read her autobiography entitled "I Know Wy the Caged Bird
Sings" I believe you will begin to understand even deeper the personal
analogy to the poem.

Carol from United States
Comment 89 of 526, added on March 22nd, 2006 at 2:16 PM.

i smile and watch as the bird sings still, singing of freedom, through
notes so shrill up with that free bird, on the hill.

amanda from United States
Comment 88 of 526, added on February 28th, 2006 at 5:59 AM.

Since the poem is just so beautiful and moving, I would just like to take
it lightly, and concentrate on the feeling it gives me,not how it was
written or what it technecally means. because to me a poem is written to
bring a feeling to the reader's heart of what the writer wants the reader
to feel.

Michelle from United States
Comment 87 of 526, added on February 28th, 2006 at 3:02 AM.

All birds deserve to be free. Maya Angelou’s “I know why the caged bird
sings” is a tale of sorrow and desire. Throughout the poem Angelou recounts
the life of a free bird and the life of a caged bird. The free bird lives a
life of ignorance towards its freedom, simply dreaming and drifting without
any cares at all. The caged bird lives a desolate life, trapped within its
iron prison. The poem conveys Angelou’s feelings about the plight of the
African-American people, one of injustice and the problems they face within
society.

The poem compares the inequalities of life between the free bird and the
caged bird. The poem describes how the free bird “thinks of another
breeze…and the fat worms waiting” Angelou intends this to represent the
white people of the USA. They have few problems in the world and live an
easy life. While the caged bird “stalks down his narrow cage and can seldom
see through his bars of rage” Life is an entirely different matter for the
caged bird. Rather than focusing of the luxuries of life he must simply
summon the will to keep wishing for a better existence. This comparison
shows the cruelty of life, one living in relative ease while another just
as deserving lives in desperation.

The caged bird is trapped within a seemingly inescapable jail, doing all
that he can to achieve his goal of freedom and happiness. However he is
given little chance “his wings are clipped and his feet are tied” There are
not many options for the caged bird, so he “sings with a fearful trill of
the things unknown but longed for still.” Even though there is a slim
chance to become free he tries anyway, for the caged bird will never give
up hope as long as he still has some kind of voice. The caged birds
determination to keep trying no matter how bad things allow him to hope
that some day he may have freedom.

Angelou uses two birds to represent both ideologies in the poem, that of
freedom and that of entrapment. Birds represent freedom and the free bird
“leaps on the back of the wind…and dips his wing in the orange suns rays”
This conjures images of freedom for the bird and is the ideal life of a
bird in general. As a contrast to this the caged bird “stands on the grave
of dreams…his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” His dreams of freedom
are lost and he has little more to do than despair. This convinces the
reader that a bird should not live without freedom. Both of these birds are
the same creature however, so both should live with freedom.

“I know why the caged bird sings” portrays two opposite lives in the same
society. It shows the unfairness of life and particularly represents the
problems African-American people face in the White dominant society of the
USA. It shows that even though both birds are essentially the same
creature, they live with unequal standards despite both being worthy of
freedom and happiness.


Philip from Australia

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Information about I know why the caged bird sings

Poet: Maya Angelou
Poem: I know why the caged bird sings
Added: Feb 27 2004
Viewed: 9344 times
Poem of the Day: May 8 2007


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