Maya Angelou - Caged Bird: A Commentary

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Caged Bird by Maya Angelou explores themes of Social injustice, Lack of freedom/choice and Shattered dreams in six stanzas of varying length. There is no set rhyme scheme to the poem but there are noticeable rhymes in stanzas two, three, four and five. Stanza six is a repetition of stanza three. There are half rhymes throughout. Vocabulary and sentence structure is very straightforward. The stanzas alternate between the free bird's perspective and that of the caged bird with regularity: two stanzas are spent on the caged bird sandwiched between one stanza discussing the free bird.

The line lengths of stanzas four and five are noticeably longer than the other four stanzas.

The free bird's liberty is emphasized by the use of vocabulary such as 'leaps' and 'floats' and highlights the bird's ability to choose how s/he wishes to spend the day and where s/he wishes to go. The bird described in this stanza has the option to 'claim the sky'. This is a stanza full of hope and potential. This further illustrates the endless possibilities the free bird has when compared to the bird described in later stanzas.

The caged bird of the second stanza is an angry and frustrated one as is shown in 'stalks'. 'Stalks' has the possible connotations of waiting for someone possibly to the point of persecution. A secondary connotation is that the bird is walking in a haughty fashion. Which is most likely? Are there alternative connotations? The bars of the cage are described through the metaphor of 'bars of rage' which also adds to the general mood of frustration.

The bird's limited vision can be perceived in many ways. Is the bird's vision limited because of his conditions in the cage or perhaps because his life is limited and therefore his horizons are limited?We often use the phrase 'clipped wings' to describe a person whose development has been limited in some way. Here the phrase is used in its literal sense. Since its wings are clipped and its feet tied, the bird...
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