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(4 April 1928)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
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Comments about this poem (Passing Time by Maya Angelou )

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  • Don Maker (10/23/2008 11:48:00 AM)

    While paying homage to another poet's work is certainly acceptable, I feel that this iteration is just too much of a copy of Paul Lawrence Dunbar's 'Sympathy' to be acceptable. Not only is it unoriginal, it has none of the emotional power of 'Sympathy', probably because Dunbar actually did know what it was to be a slave, whereas Angelou could only imagine.

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Mencita Monoï Angel Carmen (4/15/2008 1:50:00 AM)

    its like us.... we are free...but in a way still caged....and we dont now hoe to escape... its a plead for absolute freedom

  • Oyekake Satty Joshua (4/6/2008 3:23:00 PM)

    These are moving lyrics! My heart and my tears could not keep silent as read them. Your heart is indeed touched by the passion that flows only from God.

    Thank you.

  • christel leago (3/9/2008 8:32:00 AM)

    This poem reminds me of 'Hope is the thing with feathers' by Emily Dickinson. The caged bird that sings, sings of hope.

    No matter what reason Maya had for writing this poem, I interpret it differently for my experience. To me its about being free but from my own self imposed cage my cage being depression or anxiety. I never had the experiences that Mayo Angelou had, but the poem touches that caged part of me that longs to be free.

  • Kat V (3/7/2008 12:21:00 PM)

    Cass K-
    She credits him as being one of her sources of inspiration for ALL of her writing and style in her autobiography, p.14, Bantam Books, the 1993 reissue.

  • Kat V (3/7/2008 9:20:00 AM)

    This poem is, ultimately, about her experiences as a child, as well as oppression in her surroundings. Obviously, having grown up in rural Stamps, Arkansas, Angelou knew something about the racial striations surrounding her. If you read her autobiography, also entitled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, one of the main themes IS racial segregation, as well as sexism and isolation, and its effects on her life. These factors shaped who she is as a person, as well as a writer. To not understand this concept is to not see the full picture of her writing's beauty.

  • Cass K (2/18/2008 8:52:00 PM)

    i really admire maya, i think she is a fantastic writer and has accomplished a lot. im just curious though, im doing a poetry report right now and one of the poems i chose was 'sympathy' by Paul Laurence Dunbar-this is another great poem, and reminds me a lot of maya's i know why the caged bird sings.

    in fact, the end of dunbar's poem goes 'I know why the caged bird sings! '

    im sure that maya was probably inspired by 'sympathy' to write this one of her most famous poems.....but does anybody know if she accredited Paul Laurence Dunbar for his original work? wouldn't that be the thing to do? just wonderin....

  • Mo Mox (12/20/2007 7:38:00 PM)

    F Green;

    This poem, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is not about 'oppression in the freest country in history, ' as you said in your comment.

    It is about being raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was a child.

  • Berni B (12/4/2007 7:10:00 PM)

    If you liked this poem, check out the poem 'Sympathy' by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The first comment on the comment page (F Green) is unnecessarily cynical. A poem doesn't always show all of the world, just one aspect. Accept it and get over yourself.

    And remember that the US once did support Black Slavery and Jim Crow laws (do some research - Maya Angelou grew up in the South when Jim Crow laws were in effect. She knows where-of she speaks) .

    Is F Green a modern-day Holden Caulfield, worried about everybody else's phoniness?

  • F Green (11/21/2007 6:14:00 PM)

    Phony metaphor. Well, I’ve known some quite happy and complacent caged birds in my time, and the short, unhappy lives of some free birds is not necessarily all that it is cracked up to be. It’s a phony metaphor for the phony “oppression” that some people are constantly complaining about in the freest, most opportunity rich country in history.

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