Caged Bird

 Caged Bird by Maya Angelou, American civil rights activist and author, is a poem that highlights the divergence between the minds of those who are free and enslaved. The poem conveys a message of hope and of the power of self-expression – the caged bird’s tune of freedom is heard “on the distant hill,” so his tune is powerful enough to be heard in the distance. His singing leads others to hear and acknowledge his sorrow and longing for freedom.

” 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. “

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The free bird takes chances, acts on whims, and can enjoy all of life’s pleasures. While the caged bird is surrounded by misery and can only dream of freedom. Expressing sorrows and desire for freedom through song is a metaphor for enslaved black people, trapped in the cage of oppression and vocalizing their wish for liberation. 

Song has always been an integral part of black culture and is central to Maya Angelou’s poem, Caged Bird. Following the era of slavery and during the period of the civil rights movement, African Americans sang songs of the freedom gained and equality they were yet to obtain, like in Lift Every Voice and Sing.


Click to the following picture to go to the next page to learn more about Lift Every Voice and Sing: