Caged Bird- Maya Angelou. This poem is a contrast between a caged bird and a free bird and their different characteristics, emphasizing on the Caged Bird.
The fourth stanza is about the free bird again , and how the bird although free” thinks of another breeze” showing that although the bird is free , the bird is not content and is greedy to have even more freedom, but again it is shown to be lazy in that is unsatisfied with the stream of wind that it is on but not enough to do something about it.
The contrast between birds is highlighted not only by physical freedoms, but mental ones. The free bird can vividly imagine ‘fat worms’ and ‘sighing trees’, however the caged bird dreams not from experience, but longing.
The words ‘fat’ and ‘sighing’ sum up the free bird;
he has all of his material desires tended to, but internally still craves more. The caged bird is imprisoned, but free of such greed. He can find solace in the only thing he has; song. Physically the bird is caged ,but internally his soul is not.
This is the irony of the poem, and makes it relevant to everyday life.
Sound Devices :
The first two stanzas are 7 lines each. This represents how the writer may be trying to evenly contrast between the two birds. This effect is again created in stanzas 4 and 5, they have slightly longer lines but both are 4 lines each.
The repetition in the lengths of the stanzas and the the length of the lines create a tempo for the poem , and the different tempos that are created work together with the words used to create stress on different sections of the poem.
Again the poem seems like a song in itself with its own beat and even a chorus.
Maya Angelou once said, “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas! When the sun is bright on the upland slopes; When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass, And the river flows like a stream of glass; When the first bird sings and the first bud opes, And the faint perfume from its chalice steals — I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing Till its blood is red on the cruel bars; For he must fly back to his perch and cling When he fain would be on the bough a-swing; And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars And they pulse again with a keener sting — I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,— When he beats his bars and he would be free; It is not a carol of joy or glee, But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core, But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings — I know why the caged bird sings!