Angelou has used different examples of imagery in her poem such as a “free bird” leaping on the “back of the wind” or “his wings in the orange sun rays.” The imagery in this poem that of a free bird soaring in the sky and the other of a caged bird portrays the racial segregation and prejudice, and the poet’s resistance to it. She portrays herself as a caged bird, which has been confined in a cage of racism in America. She claims that her wings have been clipped and her feet have been tied from the ropes of racial bias, rape and the trauma she has suffered from(Bloom). However, she remains hopeful for the future and refuses to bow down to injustice. As the caged bird sings of freedom, Maya resists all obstacles thrown in her way and dreams of a liberated life, in which she can be identified equally with no regard to her color.
Form: Stanzas and Lines
The poem does not follow a regular pattern. The length of the stanzas vary as they move from seven lines to four lines, and then eight lines. This has been done deliberately by Angelou as the irregularity mirrors the confinement of the bird, its desire for independence and to express that independence in its own way. It also represents the plight of the Blacks, their struggle against racial segregation and longing for justice. The poet depicts that despite being held back due to the injustice done to them, the Blacks are struggling for their liberty and refuse to be silenced by racism.
Bloom, Harold. Maya Angelou. InfoBase Publishing, 2014.