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.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Maya Angelou's poem I know why the caged bird sings


  1. Brendon Hardy says:

    @Alisson- I agree with you! I havent heard great words like this in a long time. It was a great poem with great reasoning and words!

  2. Clinton says:

    @Nancie from United States- I totally agree with you. I thought this was a great poem with a lot of meaning to it.

  3. AJ says:

    Id way rather be the caged bird because he doesnt have any thing to worry about but wanting to be free. the free bird has crap to worry about like predators.

  4. christian says:

    this poem change my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. sandy birdwell says:

    Much love and respect for maya

  6. Jerry says:

    The poem is not merely about the African-American experience — to suggest that is to deny the experience of all others who have been politically, socially, or personally oppressed, or whose lives have gone unfulfilled. The theme is universal.

  7. Funsho says:

    I really think this poem is beautiful. It describes the African American experience so aptly, and with so much emotion and feeling. I just love the poem.

  8. Nancie says:

    I think this poem is a beautiful poem because it has a soft tone to it. I also think its a great poem because
    Maya Angelou put much feeling into it. I think Maya Angelou is By far the best poet in history.

  9. diametria says:

    wi love me some maya angelou i could read her poems all day if i could but i dont have none of her books i wish i had them

  10. Clemence Chinyani says:

    This is a brilliant piece that tells so much of what many people are in (situations) It may be personal cages or any other that prevent us from experiencing the joys of life. It is so full of emotion and written with skill, I love it a lot.

  11. Dee says:

    this poem reminds us that everyone has a bit of cage around them. Maya suffered a lot growing up, but that suffering she turned into something larger than its source – for this she is ultimately admirable

  12. Aad de Jong says:

    I came to hear about this poem when I heard Buckshot Lefonque sing about it. Both the poem and the song did move me greatly.

  13. Steve Charters says:

    Bland versifying that cannot compare with Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘daregale skylark’ poem on the same theme.

  14. stefanie says:

    i all ways love this poem growing up with a disiblity i can so realte to this in a way i still cant verbleize the coumputer has been the cadge door that open an set me free to coummcte my thought better

  15. Nana Abena says:

    Its a touching poem that depicts a life of a prisoner and someone that has freedom no one’s freedom should be trampled upon.’You can reach for the stars’ the sky is the starting point .Thanks Maya.

  16. Linda McCue says:

    deeply and profoundly sad, yet beautiful…….the part about longing for something you are unaware of, but longing for it anyway because some part of you knows and has the imprint of it, really touches my heart……such tragedies exist unfortunately.

  17. trisno says:

    it’s a good poem………
    be the best forever for you.

    trisno from indonesia

  18. Pamela Enis says:

    I just finished reading her book by the same name. There have been times in my life that I have been ashamed of being white…but never like when I read this book. If I could take away (with an apology) everything the white race has done to other races I would. Unfortunately, you can change everything about you except your race, and I’m not too proud of mine right now.

  19. Tylesha Godana says:

    This poem is deep in-deed!!! It was the most true-to-life, touching and all at the same time slap-you-in-the-face poem I have EVER read. These things combined make it powerful. After reading the comments and then reading it again I believe that it not only speaks to those of us that are black, but even Christians. This poem is deep. I would love to meet with Ms. Angelou and find out what she was thinking and her heart-felt thoughts on it.

  20. Wesley Ninai says:

    Two words GOOD POEM

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