I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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What is the specific rhyme scheme for Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"?

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The rhyme scheme in this poem is loose and somewhat erratic. In the first stanza, for example, there are no full end rhymes—although there is some assonance which creates a pattern of half-rhymes. For example, the last syllable of "downstream," ending line three, shares a vowel sound with the word "leaps" which ends the first line.

Likewise, lines two and five end with words ("wind" and "wing") which also share the same vowel sound. The assonance at the end of lines two and five is also compounded by the internal assonance, in line five, of the word "dips." The repetition of the breathy "i" vowel here could perhaps onomatopoeically echo the sound of the "free bird" riding up and down on the "back of the wind."

In the second stanza, the undulating assonance of the first stanza is nowhere to be found, reflecting the absence of flight and freedom endured by the caged bird. There is, however, a full (and somewhat harsh) rhyme in lines two and four, where "cage" follows "rage." The fact...

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