7 March 2014
Behind the Cage
Poetry comes from the heart, it is an art form that is not visual, but it can still be seen through analysis and thought. Poetry is meaningful, though confusing at some times, and has been popular for ages. Maya Angelou, born in 1928, is a well-known African American poet, recognized for her poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” also known as “Caged Bird” was written in 1969 about Angelou’s struggle as a young girl. Angelou uses her life and experiences with racism and discrimination to prove that even in rough times, one can soar to even greater heights than imagined. Throughout this poem Maya Angelou uses metaphors and repetition, figurative language, and symbols to show it was not easy to be free (Poetry Foundation).
The use of metaphors and repetition is one of the most commonly seen aspects of Angelou’s poems that show the struggle of slavery. Angelou uses the phrase “caged bird” multiple times throughout the poem which could show that freedom is precious and that being in a “cage” is tough. The cage, or the slave owners, is what is restricting the African Americans from being free. She also repeats the phrase “so he opens his throat to sing” quite a few times in her poem. Historically, singing was one of the most popular way to let out feelings and a way of expression for the slaves. Lastly, one of the metaphors that stood out was the “grave of dreams” reference. Grave of dreams seems to be a loss of hope of freedom and the chance to living the “American Dream” for the slaves. It is like saying their dreams of living life as a free person are dead and buried. Angelou does a great job of showing images to the reader (Poetry Genius).
Along with metaphors and repetition, Angelou uses symbols to show the life of a slave. One of the most common symbols Angelou uses is the phrase “caged bird”. “Caged bird” means exactly how it sounds, trapped. It is a symbol for the African slaves, they were birds trapped in a world where they couldn’t...