The Caged Bird

Posted by M ws On Friday, July 29, 2011 3 comments
Throughout history, we can see that barriers have been raised between races in many parts of the world, even our own. This poem, "The Caged Bird" is another favorite of mine written by an American poet that I admire greatly - Maya Angelou.



Born as Marguerite Ann Johnson in 1928, she is an American poet, playwright, author, producer and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. She has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" and is best known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was nominated for a National Book Award and show the unity of Angelou's central themes: the injustice of racism and how she fights it. A highly respected writer, it is no surprise that she has won over 30 honorary degrees.

RATIONALE FOR THIS POST
I am doing a post about this poem tonight because its message is particularly relevant to us in the light of recent developments in our country. As I surf the net, I can feel the onslaught of vehement comments from various parties expressing their outrage and in many ways, many of us are like the subject in the poem - THE CAGED BIRD.

BACKGROUND OF THIS POEM
Divisions and inequalities have existed between African Americans and whites since long ago. For more than one hundred years African Americans have lived in a world where ongoing white supremacy and African American inferiority exist and have unjustly endured many injustices, ranging from slavery, discrimination, segregation, and racism.
In history, ultimately the opportunities have existed for whites; African Americans have been oppressed, segregated, and held back.

In Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” there is a clear parallel between the caged bird and the free bird, and the African American man or woman and the white man or woman. While Angelou never mentions either race it is clear that she does so through the metaphors she uses to send the points she wants to get across to her audiences. Angelou’s words speak out to an all African American audience to relate to, understand, and share the feelings of oppression and segregation, and feelings of jealousy toward the white race. Maya Angelou also speaks to an audience of mixed races and I believe many of us can identify with her voice...


I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
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.
MY LITERARY INTERPRETATION OF THE POEM

In this poem, Angelou tells a tale of sorrow, and desire, comparing a free bird to a caged bird. Beautifully written, it opens your eyes to the sad truth about segregation, through a wonderful blend of similes, metaphors, rhyme, repetition and assonance.

Angelou uses the metaphor of a bird struggling to escape its cage described in the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, "Sympathy", as a "central image" throughout all of her autobiographies.

Similar to the elements within the prison narrative, the caged bird represents Angelou's imprisonment from the racism she sees as inherent in Stamps, Arkansas, and her continuing experiences of other experiences she views as imprisonment, like racial discrimination, drugs, marriage, and the economic system.This metaphor also invokes the "supposed contradiction of the bird singing in the midst of its struggle".

This poem has a deeper meaning that is the ongoing plight to end the racial segregation in the United States but can be applied to our country where we have two groups of power in conflict with each other.

Maya Angelou expresses in her poem with the use of two opposite lives living in the same society, with the free and caged bird.

White people represent a free bird able to "[leap] on the back of wind", and do as he, or she chooses. The line "The free bird thinks of ... the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright law and names the sky his own" demonstrates that most of the white society cares more about their wealth and very little about the black community's oppression. Does this sound familiar?

Angelou also implies that black citizens of the United States are very much like a caged bird, "his wings are clipped and his feet are tied..." except for that the bars on a black citizens cage, that restrict him from the joys of freedom and give him a "grave of dreams", are not made of cheap metal or plastic, but of racist oppression, discrimination, and segregation. Again, does this ring a familiar tune in your ear?

Because of the caged bird's oppression, "[he] sings with a fearful trill of things unknown and longed for still", like how civil rights activists wrote papers, gave speeches, and organized protests for equal rights in America so no citizen felt as if he was in a cage.

When Angelou says that the black citizen's "tune is heard on a distant hill," her message is that the white society is can hear their cries for equality but only faintly. Finally in her last line of the poem, she says, "for the caged bird sings of freedom", she means that the plight for equality is slowly improving, but is nowhere near the end, and the only way to get to the end is to make everyone aware of this social injustice.

It is very clear that Angelou believes in equality for all of mankind and declares through her poem that even though there are social injustices in life, hope and persistence can lessen, and eventually get rid of segregation. This poem tries to show that even though the free bird and the caged bird are still birds, one is free and the other is a prisoner, despite that they both deserve freedom and the opportunity to be happy.

CONCLUSION



The themes decipherable in this poem are universal and truly go beyond the confines of the United States of America because many may feel very much caged in their own countries as oppression of many sorts continue because of certain groups.

The cry of many that we can hear or see in cyberspace are like the cries and songs of the caged bird who yearns to sing when trapped within, 'caged' or restricted. It doesn't show just the black race; it shows religion, or how a person can just be so frustrated when caught in the struggles of life. Drowning, trapped, encased, and they cannot get out. While another person is enjoying their life of freedom, with only the care of what was happening next in THEIR life and without a care for other people, the caged bird seems to be going insane, beating it's 'wing' against the bars until it bled. Am I hitting familiar notes????

When Maya Angelou tries to explain the process of drowning, she does not tell how or why the person got into the water or what he needs to do to get. What she does offer is two people in the water.

One can swim and the can't. She doesn't offer a solution for the caged bird, just the status of his being. It is the plight of the cage bird that important here. It is anybody's story. In the end its not about the cause or solution. It is about being. If we think hard and deep enough, we can empathize with Maya's thoughts, emotions, pain and outrage as expressed in poetic form.


This poem is symbolic of what anyone can go through in life when faced with adversity.They can give up or keep growing feathers until they eventually get strong enough to fly away!!!





And we will overcome....!!!!
3 birds Pictures, Images and Photos

3 comments to The Caged Bird

  1. says:

    Little Corgi Theme song called "The Angry Birds" from the movie "GE13 - The Transformacist" coming to your theater SOON!!!

    Where has UMNO gone? 2x
    Where has Najis gone? 2x
    Far far away
    Far far away...
    Last night I heard that they could not get along
    Woo...wee...
    Chipper Chapper Chip Chip
    Woke up this morning and I found they've all gone
    Woo...wee...
    Chipper chapper chip chip
    Chipper Chapper Chip chip
    Chirp

    Where has MCA gone? 2x
    Where has Soil Leg gone? 2x
    Far far away
    Far far away...
    Last night I heard that they were no longer strong
    Woo...wee...
    Chipper Chapper Chip Chip
    Woke up this morning and I found they've all gone
    Woo..wee...
    Chipper chapper chip chip
    Chipper Chapper Chip chip
    Chirp

    Where has MIC gone? 2x
    Where has Palar gone? 2x
    Far far away
    Far far away
    Last night I heard that they could not get along
    Woo...Wee...
    Chipper Chapper Chip Chip
    Woke up this morning and I found they've all gone
    Woo..wee...
    Chipper chapper chip chip
    Chipper Chapper Chip chip
    Chirp

    I so happy
    Woof! Woof!

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Little Corgi

    Oh me Oh my!!! This is superb!!! You are a natural born song-writer!!! ROTFL.

    Thanks for sharing this! Take care and enjoy the weekend!

    Cheers

  1. says:

    Little Corgi Just for the fun of it, let's take a quick look at the 2010 FDI for countries in our region...

    FDI (inflows only) was about USD300B in 2010. That's the size of the investment cake that came our way.

    Sadly, we merely took a tea spoon and timidly scooped off a tiny slice worth USD9B to quietly feed the cat.

    You know, we always seem to talk bad about China and look down on 'em Chinese...China girls this and that, prostitutes lah, well, we can talk all we want, but I have news for you Emperor Najis...China took the biggest bite. At USD109B, that means a third of all foreign investments in Asia went to them. So, in essence, we're only talking cock about how good BN (read Najis the moron) is at doing business. So, treat those China girls nice OK?

    The next smart ass is also Chinese. Hongkies. Brothers, I'm not being racist, I'm just telling you a fact. Hong Kong took home the silver. And that's USD69B. And Malaysia still thinks the Chinese are not friendly people that the world likes to do business with. We have so much to learn from them Chinese.

    And if Najib is still deaf and blind, well, Singapore has the bronze. And it's worth USD39B. Even India, with so much political uncertainty and bombs exploding here and there every now and then, STILL farking beat us in the game with USD25B worth of loot.

    And who do we beat?
    Vietnam. By a mere USD1.0B, despite Vietnam's lack of infrastructure and lack of global business exposure. Like we're so good...

    Of course we beat off "THE quarreling twin" South Korea too by USD2B. And coup de Thailand with their reds and yellows fighting all the time, still manage to take in USD6B.

    Let's not compare us with the little ones as THAT would be so shameful and insulting. We were an Asian tiger remember???

    So, people, please learn to understand and appreciate what's good for our country. Things like UMNO, Ah Lee Ibrahim, Najis, etc etc...these are all bad for our economic health. They are like expired vitamins.

    GE13 is now only months away. Vote for change.

    VOTE PAKATAN

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