I know why the caged bird sings meaning
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Quotes by Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
When you hear the words "I know why the caged bird sings," there's no doubt you think first of our author, Maya Angelou. But guess what, Shmoopers? It ain't original! The words were actually first written by one of the first nationally acclaimed African American poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar, in his poem, "Sympathy. 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!
The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas , to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of In the course of Caged Bird , Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice. Angelou was challenged by her friend, author James Baldwin , and her editor, Robert Loomis , to write an autobiography that was also a piece of literature. Reviewers often categorize Caged Bird as autobiographical fiction because Angelou uses thematic development and other techniques common to fiction, but the prevailing critical view characterizes it as an autobiography, a genre she attempts to critique, change, and expand.
It is clear that this title had great significance to Angelou, as it was the title to her entire life story. In her autobiography, she talked about the struggle of being a black author and poet. She often felt that her words were not heard because of the color of her skin. She felt that in some ways, she was still experiencing slavery. This poem, which can be read in full here , reveals the depth of those feelings. She refers to nature. This stanza is in stark contrast with the first.
The book chronicles her life from age 3 through age 16, recounting an unsettled and sometimes traumatic childhood that included rape and racism. It became one of the most widely read and taught books written by an African American woman.
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A free bird leaps on the back Of the wind and floats downstream Till the current ends and dips his wing In the orange suns 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.
Poetry's Hidden Meanings. The poem shifted to freedom. To paraphrase, This poem compares and contrasts a caged bird to a free bird. The caged bird represents a repressed society of the African-American citizens because the caged bird is not given freedom, this is true for the African American race. They were not given nearly the rights that those with white skin tones were given. Because of this, the free bird is a symbol of the white society.