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

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Comment 104 of 554, added on May 8th, 2007 at 3:23 AM.

the bird is the poet himself i guess, how nice

yann from France
Comment 103 of 554, added on April 13th, 2007 at 8:08 PM.

I love this poem it is so nice

Jessica from United States
Comment 102 of 554, added on April 13th, 2007 at 11:38 AM.

Those poems that you write are so interesting and I hope you write for ever
those beautiful poems.

Pedro Quirino from United States
Comment 101 of 554, added on April 9th, 2007 at 12:25 PM.

It's kind of obvious what this poem is talking about.. Prejudice,
Discrimination, Racism, Fight for Freedom, Longing for freedom, Human
rights, I mean really if you just read it, it would all come to you and I
think this is really un-necessary because (forgive me) only an idiot
wouldn't understand what this poem is about! I mean just read it!!And Brain
you've really made a lot of effort to comment and I really admire what
you've written but I'd like to thank Philip for giving me ideas for my
essay =) thnx a lot

Zoey from Italy
Comment 100 of 554, added on March 28th, 2007 at 5:05 PM.

u r an amazing poet! maybe u need do sum more! :D

Jude Chenevert from United States
Comment 99 of 554, added on March 28th, 2007 at 10:00 AM.

This poem is touching.

Jude Chenevert from United States
Comment 98 of 554, added on February 22nd, 2007 at 7:56 AM.

I know why the caged bird sings is a beautiful expression...I see the caged
bird as one with confidence and self esteem issues...Ms Angelou shows me
that he can sing, be heard and fly high...beautiful inspirational and
windsome. T.Y

Carlene Godfrey from United States
Comment 97 of 554, added on February 20th, 2007 at 7:38 PM.

i had to memorize this poem for english >:[

suhyun from Korea, South
Comment 96 of 554, 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!!!!!!!

Comment 95 of 554, 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

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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: 2162 times
Poem of the Day: May 8 2007

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