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Poem: Caged Bird By Maya Angelou Full Poem & Analysis

Poem: Caged Bird By Maya Angelou Full Poem & Analysis; This poem is necessary for students who are sitting for the following examinations and should be studied so as to stand a chance of passing the exams. JAMB, WAEC, NECO, GCE.

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Caged bird by Maya Angelou.

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

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.

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.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and 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.

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.

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.


The theme of captivity:

The poem’s central theme is captivity. It is in this situation that the caged bird alludes. The worst circumstance a person may experience in captivity. Since a captive is identical to a slave.

Black people are denied all their rights, much like a bird in a cage.

Therefore, it’s not only physically preventing them from moving about freely. For instance, social mobility is unattainable for the typical African American.

Additionally, their economic opportunities are scarce. Black people are subject to discrimination in the legal system.

Blacks feel constrained by the system that is dominated by whites. The only thing they can do in such a situation is to keep screaming for their liberation.

The song that the caged bird sings is one of liberation.

Racial Discrimination’s Impact on the Black Population:

In their country of origin, African-Americans are confined like caged birds. They experience numerous injustices as a result of racial bigotry, which has humiliating results.

In our nation, white people hold an almost exclusive monopoly on political and economic authority.

This abuse of authority is what leads to black oppression.

Black people have been denied all opportunities to live lives worthy of all humans for far too long. Blacks have been denied their freedom, much like captive birds.

 They are unable to move as freely as white people. Additionally, they cannot take advantage of the same social opportunities that their fellow white citizens do.

The black community has to deal with the effects of racism on a daily basis, including poverty, subpar educational opportunities, and inadequate housing.

Thus, the poet presents a terrible image of what a typical black American’s existence is like.

Black people in America, like the caged bird, are forced to observe with wrath and hatred due to these undesirable circumstances.

Black people in America can only watch in envious wonder as their white counterparts enjoy the privilege, comfort, and ease of the free bird lifestyle.

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The Value of Human Liberty and Freedom:

The significance of freedom and liberty (or the denial of it) in every human being’s life is another prominent theme in “Caged Bird.”

The white population has advanced significantly in every area of life, including politics, economics, and social life, much like the free bird.

As a result of their lack of chances, black people, on the other hand, have been reduced to a state of deprivation, rage, and despair.

Ironically, despite the fact that human dignity is the cornerstone of American civilization, a segment of the population has long been denied access to fundamental human rights.

 In fact, the history of slavery in America is what led to this tragic scenario.

Freedom as a universal Right:

The poem “Caged Bird” makes it obvious that the yearning for freedom is an innate, universal impulse that cannot be restrained or extinguished as it examines the conduct of the free and the captive. According to the poem, the caged bird sings “of things unknown / yet still sought for.” “The caged bird/singledom,” the speaker clarifies. The implication is that the caged bird was not taken from its natural environment because freedom is something it “unknows,” but rather that it was probably born in its cage and has never known anything else. Despite never having experienced freedom, the imprisoned bird nonetheless understands what it is and longs for it. The fact that everyone seems to grasp what freedom shows that freedom is the

The fact that everyone seems to comprehend what freedom argues that freedom is the default, biological state of existence.

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The literary device of enjambment is significant and frequently used in modern poetry. It occurs when a poet decides to break a sentence or phrase into two lines before it naturally ends. Lines one and two of the first stanza’s transition and lines three and four of the second stanza’s transition are two examples.


The poem uses repetition frequently, but it stands out most in the way the stanzas are organized and how often the terms “free bird” and “caged bird” are mentioned. The poet repeats the entire third stanza in the sixth stanza, which is one of the best examples.


Another type of repetition is alliteration, which only emphasizes consonant sounds repeated at the beginning of many words. For instance, “sun” and “sky” at the conclusion of stanza 1 and “cage/can” in lines 3 and 4 of verse 2.


The metaphors of a free bird and a bird kept in captivity serve as the foundation of Metaphor Caged Bird.

The free bird is a metaphor for the privileged white section of American society, as we’ve already mentioned. At the same time, they are responsible for acts of racial injustice against the black community.

The imprisoned bird that sings is a metaphor for how racial discrimination affects black people. Blacks’ capacity to grow and live better lives has been constrained, much like a bird whose most fundamental freedom—the ability to fly and explore the sky and the ground—has been denied.

Here are some further poems that use metaphor.

bars of rage

a dream grave


This is the poem by Maya Angelou that contains the most overt irony. In a nation that takes pride in the values of equality, individual freedom, and liberty, one section of the population is denied freedom. Clearly, this is a reproach to a country that preaches freedom to the rest of the world.


Caged Bird by Maya Angelou explores a situation between a caged bird and a free bird. Unquestionably, Maya Angelou’s inspiration for the poem came from some of the limitations and rejections she experienced as a result of her skin tone. One of the most powerful and awakening poems ever written is the one in question. The title of the poem and Angelou’s autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” are identical.

This poem uses metaphor to describe an average African American’s daily life in the United States of America. Two birds—one free and the other caged—are compared and contrasted throughout the 38-line poem’s six stanzas. Poem: Caged Bird By Maya Angelou Full Poem & Analysis

While the imprisoned bird can hardly move even in its jail, the free bird may fly around the wind currents and feels as though the sky is it’s own. The frustration and wrath of being confined, even with clipped and exhausted feet, is expressed only in scaring singing about the things one desires but does not yet understand. Everyone, even those in the distance, can hear it sing for its freedom.

  We see these contrasting and obvious prejudices all through the lines of the poem, the free bird is focused on the breeze, the sounds the trees make, and the worms in the ground he’s planning on eating. The poet’s persona reiterates the fact that the free bird feels as though it owns the sky. But the caged bird stands on the grave of dreams. The poem concludes with the caged bird singing once more, as the poet repeats in the last stanza.

However, these birds stand in for the two main racial groupings in the United States: Whites and African Americans. The free and unfettered bird depicts the whites in twentieth-century America, but the caged bird symbolizes the African Americans.


  1. What are examples of imagery in the poem “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou?

2. What is the tone of the poem “Caged Bird”?

3. In what ways is “Caged Bird” an allegory for racial oppression?

4. What are the poetic devices used in Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird”?

5. Examine the theme of captivity in the poem.

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