what is the theme of caged bird poem

Artistic Expression as Resistance

Angelou illustrates the tenacity, dignity, and strength of the oppressed via the suffering of the caged bird. The bird in the cage howls in protest at the unfairness of his physical confinement, but he nevertheless “sings of freedom.” The song’s repetition (found in stanzas three and six) both suggests that the caged bird will keep singing and enduring despite the hopelessness of his circumstances and evokes the ongoing nature of his struggle.

Despite being physically imprisoned, the poem does not imply that the caged bird is helpless. Four times, the word “sing” is used to convey the idea of freedom of speech and expression, including the phrase “sings of freedom.” In this way, singing represents the freedom of expression, particularly the freedom of the arts. The terms “sing,” “tune,” and “trill,” which are all connected to music, are used to illustrate the liberating power of art.

Furthermore, the poem highlights that the caged bird’s song is able to transcend his physical confines and can even be heard “on the distant hill,” despite the fact that the bird is himself imprisoned. In especially for someone whose physical body is restricted, the ability of artistic creation to communicate—to transcend a single consciousness, influencing and impacting others—is vital. There is clear political power in this communication. The poem ultimately affirms the dignity and power in this expression. Just as Angelou expresses ideas of freedom through her writing, the caged bird can share his emotions and dreams with others through song.

The idea of the caged bird—which Angelou also borrows for the title of her well-known autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings—was first inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1899 poem “Sympathy.” Dunbar was born in 1872 to parents who were freed slaves, making him one of the first Black poets to achieve widespread readership in the United States. “Sympathy” expresses the unique suffering of a bird in a cage; his “blood red on the inhumane bars,” and his innate need to sing in spite of this:

The bird’s song is not joyful, but it is crucial. Though Dunbar’s widow’s article provides evidence that the stifling, enclosed experience of working at the Library of Congress served as inspiration for the poem “Sympathy,” the poem, like Angelou’s “Caged Bird,” can also be fruitfully read as a reflection on the experience of Black Americans. Even after slavery was abolished, widespread prejudice, bigotry, White supremacist, and hatred endured in Dunbar’s day—and regrettably, they continue to endure in Angelou’s and our own.

Being involved in the civil rights movement, Angelou wrote extensively about the struggles, anguish, and tenacity of the Black community. After being invited by Martin Luther King Jr., Angelou became involved in the Harlem Writers Guild in the 1950s and 1960s. to serve as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s coordinator, plan a march, and collaborate with Malcolm X on the Organization of Afro-American Unity prior to his murder. Viewed through the prism of the civil rights movement, “Caged Bird” is both a celebration of the enduring, essential impulse to sing for freedom even in the face of injustice and an expressive critique of senseless inequality, particularly as it disproportionately affects Black Americans. It does this by contrasting the vivid descriptions of the anguish of imprisonment with the openness of the world of the free bird.

Black culture has always revolved around song, which is also essential to Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird. African Americans sang songs about their freedom and the equality they still lacked during the civil rights movement and the years after slavery, such as Lift Every Voice and Sing

American author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird illustrates the differences in perspective between those who are enslaved and those who are free. The poem’s theme is one of hope and the strength of individual expression; the caged bird’s song of freedom can be heard “on the distant hill,” indicating that it is strong enough to be heard from a distance. His singing makes his grief and longing for freedom heard and acknowledged by others.

The free bird can enjoy all of life’s pleasures, acts impulsively, and takes chances. While the bird in the cage is miserable and can only dream of being free, Black people who are enslaved and imprisoned by oppression can express their sorrows and longing for freedom through song, symbolizing their desire for freedom.


What is the central idea of the poem Caged Bird?

The central idea of this poem is Maya wants to show how her race was treated, and that they tried to be free, or any race or person facing discrimination trying to be free. The caged bird is a metaphor for those held down, denied basic freedoms.

What is the overall meaning of the poem Caged Bird?

The singing of the caged bird is indicative of a voice that remains through oppression. The cage represents the oppression of racism, the oppression of sexism, and the abuse that Maya Angelou suffered. The cage represents any restriction that an individual might have in his or her life.

What is the moral of the caged bird?

The caged bird symbolizes oppressed Black Americans. They were taken from a world of freedom and enslaved in America, tied down to a life without any freedom. The cage represents the bird’s identity in that it can never fly away.

What is the theme of Caged Bird and Sympathy?

The poem Sympathy the poem Caged Bird both share a very common theme; segregation, slavery, and imprisonment. According to the poem Sympathy, “Till its blood is red on the cruel bar… I know why he beats his wings.” And from the poem Caged Bird, “…