Essay, Pages 2 (470 words)
Maya Angelou uses caged and free birds to symbolize the dream of attaining freedom.
The poem illustrates the contrast between imprisonment and freedom through symbolism of a caged bird and a free bird and then between their dreams and desires.
Although the poem paints a picture of a carefree bird in a beautiful landscape the caged suffering bird reaching out for freedom seems to dominate the poem giving it a serious and solemn tone.
The beautifully written poem opens our mind to sad truths about segregation and oppression through a wonderful blend of similes, metaphors, rhyme, repetition, assonance and other figures of speech.
The poem uses powerful imagery to convey the opinion and message of the poet.
Metaphor “Bars of rage” symbolizes the anger and frustration of the enslaved not having the freedom to express the feelings.
The “Narrow Cage” is used to describe the claustrophobic society in which the suffocated captives are subjugated to humiliation and denied equality in life or society.
“Graves of Dreams the caged bird stands on” is another illustration sketching the disillusionment of the black oppressed people.
They fear that freedom for them is merely a mirage -something so evasive something they can never achieve.
White people represent the free bird able to “leap on the back of wind” and do as she or he chooses. The free bird thinking of “free worms” and “naming the sky his own” demonstrates that these free white men care merely about their own wealth and disregard the needs and cries of the oppressed black community.
‘The caged bird replicate the black citizens of the US. The wings are clipped and his feet tied tell us that these people are devoid of the simple joys of freedom, which is their birthright, and have unfortunately and unfairly become victims of discrimination and racism.
The phrase “tune is heard on a distant hill” is a message that the white people have knowingly moved far too away to hear the cries of “the black caged birds” and choose to be indifferent and lack any compassion.
Another phrase, “dips his wings in orange sun rays,” reveals a contrast between the delicacy and gentleness of the language and the blunt harshness of the theme of the poem. The poet has simultaneously used powerful verbs like “Leaps, flows, dips and dares to describe the actions of the free and oppressed.” The bird “stalks…” opens his throat to sing conveys that singing is the only expression of freedom and the only way of leaping and floating ahead towards freedom.
This highly romantic poem concludes on a optimistic note by saying through the words “for the caged bird sings of freedom” showing that slowly the captives will succeed in making everyone aware of the social injustice and obtain the much deserved freedom and opportunity to be happy.