Describe the free bird’s surroundings and the effects the surroundings have in the poem "Caged Bird."

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At one moment the free bird is up in the sky and at the next it’s floating effortlessly down the gentle current of a river. And then again it takes off and pleases itself with the warmth of the sun. It drifts and glides as if the whole sky belongs to it. It flies in the endless sky unrestrictedly and unthwartedly.

and he names the sky his own

It revels in the pleasant breeze and hears “the sighing trees” when the soft trade winds blow through them. And when it is hungry, it finds plenty of fat worms as if “waiting on a dawn bright lawn” to be fed by it.

Thus the environment of the free bird consists of the entire world including the boundless sky, rivers and streams and the whole earth. It is at its liberty to please itself with the bounties of nature.

The endless and unfenced world of the free bird acts as an antithesis to the miniature and barred world of the caged bird.  

Although titled as ‘Caged Bird,’ the poem begins with the description of the free bird’s world. This achieves a special effect. The poet Maya Angelou heightens the tragic pathos of the imprisoned bird when its plight is seen against the backdrop of the activities and environment of the frolicking free bird. Having read about the free bird, it makes us uneasy to imagine the caged bird with its “tied legs and “clipped  wings” uttering “a nightmare scream.”