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Caged Bird Summary & Analysis
by Maya Angelou

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"Caged Bird" was published in Maya Angelou's 1983 poetry collection Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? The poem describes the opposing experiences between two birds: one bird is able to live in nature as it pleases, while a different caged bird suffers in captivity. Due to its profound suffering, the caged bird sings, both to cope with its circumstances and to express its own longing for freedom. Using the extended metaphor of the two birds, Angelou paints a critical portrait of oppression in which she illuminates the privilege and entitlement of the un-oppressed, and conveys the simultaneous experience of suffering and emotional resilience. In particular, the poem's extended metaphor can be seen as portraying the experience of being a member of the African American community.

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