An analysis of Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird, This poem deals with the problems which the African community faced throughout the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It portrays the oppression, discrimination and pain people went through for being of a different race. She had been inspired by an earlier poet Paul Dunbar whose parent were slaves and so were hers. She could relate to the poem and what Dunbar went through which is what inspired her. The poem is a very strong representation of how the African community felt in the US and all over the world. The title of the poem has a significant meaning which is that a bird that usually is a free animal is being locked in a cage and its freedom is taken away. This relates with the discrimination the Africans endured in the form of slavery and colonisation.
In the first stanza Angelou describes freedom and a painless life a free bird has. She uses certain words to describe a sense of freedom into the reader for example leaps, floats, dips, orange sun’s rays and the phrase ‘dares to claim the sky’. It shows that the free bird hasn’t got a care in the world and just flows through the air without tension or frustration as it glows in the orange sun. The bird has no limitations and can go where ever and do what ever it wants because it is free.
In the next stanza Angelou talks about the a life in captivity, which is represented by a bird living in a cage and forever imprisoned behind his ‘bars of rage’ that symbolizes the anger and frustration the bird was feeling. The bird’s feet are tied and his wings are clipped which shows that he cannot escape his prison and will never be free, all he can do is cry for help so ‘he opens his throat to sing’.
In the third stanza it describes the cry of help which the caged bird is singing. He sings with fear which means he feels scared to express her wishes but he longs for anything other than this cage. He sings with a sense desperation and hopelessness for freedom.
In stanza four it goes back to the free bird that is soaring through the breeze watching the lawns for fat worms that are just waiting for him to come and pick feast on them. He is gliding and floating and taking over the skies.
In the fifth stanza it talks about the caged bird being soo close to his dreams but just can’t get past the last barrier of his cage. He is living through his worst nightmares and doesn’t know what to do so he opens his throat to sing. The last stanza is a repeat of stanza three
To me this poem has a very powerful message in it and shows what it is wants you to know very clearly and thoroughly. The language it uses is quite simple and is meant to be understood by everyone. Maya Angelou has really put her own life experiences into this poem and that gives it an even deeper feeling and meaning.