Caged Bird: Poem by Maya Angelou

Categories: Poems

The poem, “The Caged Bird”, was written by Maya Angelou. Throughout the poem, she conveys the themes of freedom and isolation by using the symbols of the free bird and the caged bird.

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The Variation between the two birds enables her to demonstrate her emotions and feelings about the two themes.

In stanza 1, the poet introduces the reader to the free-flowing nature of the poem, which lacks a concrete rhyme scheme. This technique reflects the lack of restrictions faced by the free bird.

The poet uses verbs like “ leaps, floats, dips” in order to paint a vivid image of how joyful the free bird is. The bird can choose the way it wants to live and can live life to the fullest. The bird is in a state of tranquility and is utterly happy that it, “dares to claim the sky”., In other words, it has the audacity to claim ownership over something it doesn't own.

In the second stanza, the poet immediately introduces the caged bird. It is quite ironic that even though the title of this poem is “caged bird”, the poet describes the free bird first. She does this in order to create a drastic contrast between the life of the caged bird and the free bird. Through the use of dark and heavy words like “Stalks, Narrow cage, Rage, Tied”, the poet creates an image of a bird that is isolated. The caged bird is miserable, lonely, and subjugated.

“Wings are clipped” and “feet are tied” implies how the bird’s freedom was forcefully taken away and it cannot fly even if it aspires to.

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The only option left for the bird is to sing its anger and pain.

In stanza 3, the poet describes the way the bird sings. The bird doesn't sing because it is happy, but because it's scared, angry, and sad. It knows that there is something better out there and cries so that someone can save him.

In stanza 4, the reader returns back to the life of the free bird. Angelou uses personification throughout the poem. Inline 24, she uses the phrase ”sighing trees” which refers to the sighing noise the trees made. This could indicate how the trees also lack freedom because they are tied to the ground like the caged bird. The free bird has access to a privileged life as he can eat “fat worms”, unlike the caged bird. The free bird refuses to share the sky and claims ownership over something it doesn’t own.

In stanza 5, the reader is returned to the miserable life of the caged bird. The caged bird “stands on a grave of dreams'' implies that the bird knows it won’t be able to live a life like the free bird and that his dreams about freedom are futile.The Personification is used in line 28, ”shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” and this implies that it's more pitiable and adverse than a nightmare. Even though the caged bird's hands are tied and wings are clipped, it continues to sing because it still has a little hope for freedom and wishes to travail against all adversities.

In the final stanza, the poet repeats the line from stanza 3 in order to emphasize how miserable the caged bird is. Despite being in such a tough and difficult situation, the bird still sings. Angelou also personifies the pronoun of the bird from, “its to his'', in order to relate its situation to a human who is a subjugated member of the community. The hands and wings of the bird are tied and clipped, but its throat hasn't been choked, and therefore it sings because this is the only freedom available to him, and he can enjoy it without any restriction. This is why she uses the title, “I know why the caged bird sings”.


Written by Sophia Nguyen
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Keep in mind: this is only a sample!
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Essay's Scoring Result:
Expert's Assessment
The essay offers a insightful analysis of Maya Angelou's "The Caged Bird," effectively exploring themes of freedom and isolation. It adeptly employs literary devices, such as symbolism and personification, to convey the poet's emotions. The structured progression through stanzas creates a compelling contrast between the free and caged birds. Strong sentence composition enhances clarity, and the essay demonstrates a good grasp of the source material. Overall, it provides a thoughtful and well-executed interpretation of the poem.
How can you enhance this essay?
Refine transitions between paragraphs for a smoother flow. Explicitly connect the poet's intent with societal implications to deepen the interpretation. Vary sentence structures for added dynamism. Aim for precision in language, avoiding vagueness like "something better." Emphasize concrete details. Ensure consistent use of third-person pronouns for clarity in reference.
This essay's assessment was conducted by:
Prof. Jane Thompson
Cite this page

Caged Bird: Poem by Maya Angelou. (2020, Oct 16). Retrieved from

Caged Bird: Poem by Maya Angelou essay
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