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Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
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Comments about this poem (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou )

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  • Will K.s (2/27/2012 7:46:00 PM)

    Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” carried a certain air of resonance, which despite it’s simple diction, struck me as deep and meaningful, and ambiguous in many ways. This poem is generally specified to pertain to the struggles African-American people have endured, however such specificity is exclusive to a certain people while this poem is more likely to be generally referring to suppressed freedom or liberty. Angelou creates a deep contrast between the freedoms of the bird the restrained bird is watching, juxtaposing the lines “And he claimed the sky his own” and “But a caged bird stands on a grave of dreams”. Due to the allegorical ambiguity of this particular poem, it is hard to determine its exact meaning, however, it can be said that the poem voices the dismay of the suppressed, and the ignorance of the free. (Report) Reply

  • Carter Ellis (2/27/2012 5:56:00 PM)

    Maya Angelou’s poem “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is a very inspiring and motivational poem. At first glance this poem is seems to convey a simple meaning of a bird in the cage wanting freedom, but once you look deeper into the poem you notice that the poem is about much more than that. The poem conveys the struggle that black people faced during the years of slavery and into the early 1900’s. The poem also continually talks about search for freedom during these years. There are many contrasts in the poem between the struggles and confinement the bird (black people during slavery) faces and having freedom and being able to live in an open world with nothing holding them back from anything they wanted to do. This is shown between the two lines “The free bird thinks of another breeze” and “But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams”. In closing this poem is a fantastic allegory to show how the black slaves were segregated and their search for freedom. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Dimmer (2/27/2012 3:52:00 PM)

    This poem is very motivational and really illustrates the struggles that black people have overcome. Maya does a very good job at using personification with the caged bird and in a way it is a representation of her. One line that really sticks out for me is But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams. I find this very sad and it shows how much segregation and laws against coloured people caused suffering and pain. There is optimism though and a prime example of this is his wings are clipped and his feet are tired, so he opens his throat to sing. This is a strong metaphor of how black people will continue to use their voice and fight for freedom until it is achieved. (Report) Reply

  • Jack Schwartz (2/27/2012 1:53:00 PM)

    The poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is a powerfully sorrowful poem. The poem can be interpreted in multiple ways depending on the time period you think of. It can be interpreted as part of the fight against racism/slavery in the 1850s, and homophobia now. For instance, looking at his wings are clipped and his feet are tied/ so he opens his throat to sing can be related to the issue of gay marriage and how, even though it is not allowed in many places, gay and straight people are teaming up to peacefully protest all anti-gay laws. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Stefankiewicz (2/27/2012 12:13:00 PM)

    I found that Maya Angelou's poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was very powerful and emotional. I believe that she really captured how the people who are getting hurt by it feel racism. She is capturing this by showing the conditions that African Americans had to endure during the period of slavery and Jim Crow laws. This poem also showed the struggle that they were going through to try and get away and stopping having to work under poor condition and racist bosses. I think that the main objective of this poem was that racist has held people back from doing what they really can because white racist owners were bringing them down. (Report) Reply

  • Alec Switzman (2/27/2012 11:12:00 AM)

    Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, ” is a very complex and riveting poem, which on the surface shows the straightforward contrast of the two birds, and underneath the simple language, shows the intricate message of discrimination, segregation, and the dominance of the white race over the black race. Maya Angelou disguised a complex deeply thoughtful linguistic poem that shows the contrast of freedom and imprisonment under a simple poem. Freedom is shown when Maya says, “The free bird leaps on the back of the wind”. This represents the white race. Imprisonment is show when Maya says, “His wings are clipped and his feet are tied”. This represents the black race. Maya Angelou took a simple poem, and turned it into to a deep and complex message that makes the reader sympathize the black race. Furthermore it shows the way black people were treated in this harsh time. (Report) Reply

  • Shawn Wu (2/26/2012 8:27:00 PM)

    The poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is one of the most powerful poems I have ever read. At first, the story may simply be about two birds and their contrasting situations; however, after reading over the poem several times, I begin to discover the allegory of the poem. The contrasting situations between the two birds very clearly portray the idea of racism and injustice. By comparing the free bird to the white race and the caged bird to the African American race, Maya Angelou clearly shows the harsh conditions African Americans were forced to experience. Not only did the poem display hardship, but it also portrays the tremendous struggle African Americans have undergone in these hostile situations. In addition, the use of the words fearful trill of things unknown” truly gave the feeling of sorrow, yet they portray a strong sense of courage as the African Americans attempted to gain freedom in society using the power and the freedom of their voice. (Report) Reply

  • Matthew Clark (2/26/2012 10:29:00 AM)

    The poem “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was an incredibly meaningful poem to me. Maya Angelou portrayed the effects of racism and segregation beautifully through the use of the free and caged birds. The caged bird is interpreted as the black race being held back because of its colour, and the free bird is interpreted, as the white race having all the freedom and ability to do whatever it want. The effect that this poem had on me was that no matter the colour of your skin, everyone should be afforded the same opportunities, and everyone should be treated equally; no matter their skin colour. Maya Angelou does a great job describing the message of how racism and segregation in society has held many races back from being able to achieve their full potential. I believe that the use of an allegory in this poem was a fantastic way to describe the racism and segregation, and oppression of the black race. Fantastic job Maya! (Report) Reply

  • Matthew T (2/24/2012 2:46:00 PM)

    The poem “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” resonated strongly with me. Maya Angelou vividly describes the effects of racisms and segregation and the dominance of the white race. In addition this poem strongly illustrates and depicts the comparison of freedom vs. imprisonment. Freedom is seen when the author says, “the free bird leaps, the free bird thinks”, it gives the idea that this bird has power. Imprisonment is seen when the author says, “the caged bird sigs, the caged bird stands”, it gives the idea that this bird is oppressed. The effect that this poem had on me was that we as humans, regardless of what the color of our skin is, should treat all others with respect regardless of their skin color. It does not make it right that the free bird – referring to the white race should act as a master to the caged bird – representing the black race. Everyone descries fair and equal opportunities and I believe that this is the main message that the author is trying to send to the reader. Maya Angelou does a fantastic job describing the message of how racism and segregation in society feels and the pains that they bring through her strong use of emotion. Great job Maya. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Avis (2/21/2012 8:19:00 AM)

    The juxtaposition of Angelou's free bird and caged bird metaphor vividly illustrates the emotional impact of captivity and what the freedom to leap on the back of the wind feels like. Masterfully emotional writing. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh Rai (2/21/2012 7:08:00 AM)

    he 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.
    freedom. each and every creature needs freedom except the human beings who are captive of so many formalities. (Report) Reply

  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (2/20/2012 5:13:00 AM)

    Cage keeper will not bring the freedom, it is known to them/freedom, freedom n freedom indeed, you r free to read and vote my poems also (Report) Reply

  • Betty Loia (2/14/2012 5:30:00 PM)

    What happened to the original I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Paul Laurence Dunbar? ? A much better poem than this one, by the way. (Report) Reply

  • Sagar Shelar (2/11/2012 5:41:00 AM)

    Amazing poem. Freedom is freedom. Flying in the sky gives more pleasure than living in a golden cage. (Report) Reply

  • Carissa Sanders-harrod (1/31/2012 5:02:00 PM)

    the poem to me dipicts the trials and situations people put themselves in everyday by making choices of being caged and letting other people make their fate and decide their freedom iwith deciding thisyou loose it and long for it to return. (Report) Reply

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