Commonplace Entry #9

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
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.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
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.

-Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

In memory of Maya Angelou I wanted to dedicate one of my commonplace entries to her. When I was a young girl in school poetry was never one of my interests. However, when we came across this poem and analyzed it until the very last detail, its words stuck with me. We spent several weeks on this poem. It gave me further insight about slavery and how words cannot describe the emotion and feelings one went through. The way Angelou repeats the main verse emphasises the point she wants to get across, her rhyming pattern makes the poem flow, and her use of a profound metaphor, even though her poem is about a “bird” it is actually referring to a person longing for their freedom, is what makes this poem one to remember. This renowned poet, civil rights activist, and award-winning author will never be forgotten. Her words continue to live. May she rest in peace.

One thought on “Commonplace Entry #9

  1. This is a beautiful poem, I’ve never heard of Maya Angelou, but based off of this I’m interested in looking up other writing by her. It’s a great depiction of slavery and is told in such a beautiful way. You’re definitely right about how using the metaphor of a bird makes it rememberable. Seems like an interesting poem to analyze. Thanks for sharing!

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