How does the poem "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou relate to journeys?

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We'd be reading into the poem too much if we said it's definitely about journeys. It's about freedom and captivity, the longing for freedom, the nature and effect of expressing an outcry, the irrepressible nature of the spirit, and the abject unfairness of inequality. But journeys? Well, kind of. Let's try.

Other works by Angelou do deal explicitly and figuratively with journeys, which is why I agree that it's worthwhile to ask whether this poem in particular also has some undercurrent of the idea.

But when we read the poem, we see the two birds (the happy free one and the unhappy caged one) and we understand the outcry of the unhappy one, who stays in his cage. (We can interpret that as a soul "caged" by slavery that longs for freedom.) So even though the free bird is flying around and enjoying plump worms and having a great time, he's not really on a journey, and neither is the caged bird.

In fact, the lack of a journey (the unmet need for a journey) from captivity to freedom may be the most important feature of this poem.

To explore this question further, please read through the poem itself (it's short and easy to understand) and refer to this explanation of what's happening in the poem and what it means.