I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Keel

Dante Keel

Ms. Nelson

Period 3

February 13, 2012

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In the poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings written by Maya Angelou, the poet uses personification, symbolism and metaphors to show how precious freedom is.

To begin, one example of personification can be found in stanza five. In the quote, “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream.” It is saying that while the caged bird may seem joyous on the outside his true feelings aren’t the same as he is being seen. This quote is an example of personification because it says the shadow “shouts” when in reality shadows can’t shout. The writer is giving the shadow human like traits by stating this. As you can see, it contributes to the theme because it may seem like he’s enjoying himself but his shadow shows his true feelings of how he longs for freedom.

The author then goes on to use symbolism which is shown in the quote, “the free bird thinks of another breeze.” She is showing that the free bird has the freedom of choice, freedom of spirit and freedom of living life to its fullest. It is an example of symbolism because the free bird represents freedom while the air represents life. It contributes to the theme because it is showing how free people can do virtually whatever they want.

Last but not least the author uses a metaphor. In the quote “but a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.”, she is saying that the caged bird’s dreams will never come true (the caged bird represents someone without freedom). It is an example of a metaphor because your dreams can’t actually be buried in a grave. The theme is shown here because she is talking about how the caged bird dreams of freedom but yet the dreams of freedom will forever be out of the caged birds reach.

The author uses the above examples of personification, symbolism and metaphors to show how important and meaningful freedom really is and how freedom should not be taken for granted.


Maya Angelou-Keel

Maya Angelou is a very great and revolutionary writer of our time. She was born in 1928 on April fourth in St. Louise Missouri. She was raised in St.Louise,Missouri and Stamps,Arkansas. While in Stamps she received brutal racism, but she also learned about the traditional african american family ,culture, and community. When she was a teen her love for arts got her a scholarship to study drama and dance in Francisco’s Labor school. In 1954 to 1955 she took a tour of Europe, while producing the opera Porgy and Bess. In 1958 she joined the Harlem Writers guild, and acted in an off-broadway performance. She is still alive today.  Maya Angelou is celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. She met Malcolm X while in Ghana. Soon after she arrived in the U.S Malcolm X was assassinated. She studied and learns five languages: French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti.

In the poem I know why the caged bird sings she talks about how freedom is precious by comparing a free bird and a caged bird.

Creative, Penguin. “Maya Angelou – Biography.” Maya Angelou – The Official Website. Penguin Creative. Web. 08 Feb. 2012. http://mayaangelou.com/bio/.
Unknown. “Maya Angelou Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <http://www.biography.com/people/maya-angelou-9185388&gt;.