Who is the speaker and what is subject of the poem "Caged Bird"? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As was mentioned in the previous response, the poem is written in the third person from an omniscient point of view. Utilizing omniscient narration, Maya Angelou compares and contrasts the plight of a free bird to that of a caged bird. She juxtaposes the environment and nature of the free...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

As was mentioned in the previous response, the poem is written in the third person from an omniscient point of view. Utilizing omniscient narration, Maya Angelou compares and contrasts the plight of a free bird to that of a caged bird. She juxtaposes the environment and nature of the free bird to illuminate the harsh, depressing life of the caged bird. While the free bird is given the opportunity to fly and "claim the sky," the caged bird's feet are tied and "can seldom see through his bars of rage." Unlike the caged bird, the free bird lives an independent, delightful existence. The caged bird can only open his throat to sing of things hoped for and unknown. Maya's metaphor of the caged bird's helpless existence illustrates the oppressive experience of African Americans. The poem is also autobiographical and depicts Maya's resilience and strength in the face of adversity. The fact that the caged bird sings of freedom despite its current situation conveys a feeling of hope that one day the caged bird will be released. This message coincides with the hope that one day African Americans will no longer suffer from discrimination and oppression in a prejudiced society. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Caged Bird" is a poem by Maya Angelou. It consists of six stanzas, of which two discuss the thoughts of the "free bird" and four the thoughts of the "caged bird." The poem is written in the third person and the speaker is not identified. The point of view is omniscient. The speaker has access to the minds and interior thoughts of both birds. The birds are presented as highly anthropomorphized with both birds having human thoughts and feelings, albeit with the caged bird being the more humanized of the two. While the free bird sings of ordinary events in the life of birds, the speaker states:

for the caged bird   
sings of freedom
 
While on the literal level, this poem compares and contrasts two types of birds, on a metaphorical level this is a poem about black people in the United States. The "caged bird" is a reference to slavery and to the white oppression of black people. The song of the caged bird is artistic creation, particularly the musical and literary creations, of African-Americans.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team