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Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Page history last edited by mele 10 years, 10 months ago

Caged Bird

Summary- Maya Angelou uses the analogy of a free bird and a caged bird to illustrate the difference between those who angrily demand freedom and those who claim it confidently




The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.


'leaps' and 'floats' have joyous and free connotations. 'floats downstream' is a metaphor for life, and the fact that they float indicates living life at there leisure. 'dares to claim the sky' freedom is there for the taking, it is there concious choice.


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.

Change of tone from joyful to piteous imagery, 'can seldom see through his bars of rage' they're unable to think clearly and take there freedom because of there overwhelming self pity/ anger, because he is angry he is forcably tied down also by society. Use of 'throat' rather than his mouth emphasises the deep origins of his pain rather than on the surface (mouth).
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The stanza has tight rhyming until the last line, this emphasises 'for the caged bird sings of freedom' it associates freedom with fear, longing and overwhelming despair of how far, far, far, far, far AWAY freedom seems. 
The free bird thinks of another breeze
an 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.

'Fat worms on a dawn-bright lawn' symolises the vast opportunity that is there for the taking, and also alludes to the saying 'the early bird gets the worm', this enforces the old values of leaping at every opportunity. This stanza has a more assertive image which is in contrast to the previous stanza in which the caged bird doesnt claim freedom but instead idealises it. 'Thinks of another breeze' the 'person' is not imprisoned by anger and rather can visualise an existence and freedom beyond there 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

Change of tone again, 'grave, shadow. nightmare, scream' create a haunting image, 'stands on the grave of dreams' is symbolic of those who are angry and hang onto the past to fuel their anger. Repition of 'wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing' reinforces the willingness to talk about freedom at the expense of breaking free. 
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.

Repetition of an entire stanza, shows how far ThE CaGeD bIRd HaS To gO To rEaCh fREeDoM.

 hOw FaR ThE CaGEd BIrDs SoNg rEAcHeS rEpREsEnTs HOw WiDeLy AngRy dEMaNDs ArE HeArD, iN CoNtRAsT To tHe WaY tHoSe WhO hAvE NoT bEeN bLInDeD bY AnGeR hAvE QuiETLy BuT eFFeCtIVeLy GrAsPeD At AnD aTtAInEd fREeDoM. The stanza finishes with a despairing tone it represents the distance still to go to be free.



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