Maya Angelou is a black, feminist poet that was influenced by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in her poem “Caged Bird”. In my opinion, Maya speaks of her experiences not only as an African American, but also as a woman. The discrimination of race and gender she suffered clearly affected her life and what she expresses in the poem. She writes about a bird that has been denied freedom, just as her.
The first stanza of the poem gives the reader the idea of action and movement. Imageries such as “on the back of the wind” and “in the orange sun’s rays” invoke within us the idea of unbounded freedom. Verbs that are related to freedom are used (“leap”, “float”, “dip”, “dare”, “claim”) and elements of nature are portrayed. Contrasting with the first stanza, the second one is totally different. The verbs are much heavier and darker and a different kind of tone is used. “Bars of rage” and “wings are clipped” are used to give an idea of a cruelty that has been done to another bird. The contrast between the two first stanzas is so big that it creates a paradox and makes the reader sympathize with the caged bird. In the third stanza, the fact that “the caged bird sings of freedom” is emphasized. It shows that the bird thinks that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.
The next three stanzas show the emotions and feelings of both the caged and the free bird. Once again there is a huge contrast between them, making the reader feel sympathy, anger and a sense of unjust towards the situation. “Grave of dreams” is used to describe the situation at which the caged bird stands on, creating a feeling that there is an impossibility for a better tomorrow.
After analyzing the poem, we can notice that even though the caged bird is in an inescapable situation, his dreams are still there and he still sings. He is determined to do something yet he is confined in a cage. This lack of liberty has an effect on the reader and it makes it clear that the situation is unfair. The caged bird...