Rhetorical Analysis: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou wrote the poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, in August of 1969. She is honored with her wonderful works. Despite having been a published author and poet for many years. “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is believed as one of Maya Angelou’s greatest poems. Simply because it tells a grand story using language, rhyme scheme and wonderful lyrical devices. It is a story about a young girl that is used in a metaphor as a caged bird. A lonely bird that goes through many of triumphs and when all is against this bird it sings. It doesn’t just sing to sing. It sings for hope, freedom, faith, and equality. While this poem is well known and to some considered one of her best pieces of poetry, a question is raised as to why her poetic genius and structure has never been seen or even considered before this poem was even written? Either way “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou is seen as one of the most Legendary pieces of our time.

In order to comprehend what makes “I know why the caged bird sings” a phenomenal piece, one must look at what appeals individuals to it. At first read, it comes across as being an ethos based writing simply because at this point in her career, Ms. Angelou was just starting. She opened up her life story. But if you stop to take time and analyze this piece you will recognize that it is in fact a pathos based piece. The reason being is that the story is indeed about a woman’s struggle to deal with the loss of everything. This poem begins and ends with the young girl’s focus on the loss of the things she needs most, her freedom.  It is only when the birds clipped wings and tied feet enters the distress and loss of this young woman.

                  “a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
                 his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
                 his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
                           so he opens his throat to sing

                     The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
                     of things unknown but longed for still
                        and his tune is heard on the distant hill
                           for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Because of her fearfulness, the young girl is alone trying to reason the situation but realizing that all she wants is to be free like the free bird that soars in the evening breeze. Since the young girl deeply wants freedom just as the free bird does, the piece is clearly based off of pathos.

Not only does the story of the poem use pathos, but the poetic structure and foundation contribute to it as well. The lyrical devises she uses are influential and moving, allowing this poem to be viewed in the way of the “Caged bird.” The audience will indeed gain a better understanding behind the way she uses her language, and thus allowing a much stronger feeling of what the story truly means. Giving the audience a much deeper connection.

The poetic structure contributes to pathos because the story relies on rhyming; it gives the reader a chance to read the poem as more of a song, helping the reader to be more engaged into the poem. Thus giving the reader a much deeper connection.

2/29/2012 03:18:52 am

This is a very well written rhetorical analysis. It really helped me gain a better sense of understanding about why this poem is so phenomenal! I understood the whole analogy of the girl to a caged bird, but understanding how she meant for it to be perceived gave me a greater appreciation for her work.

Nisha Marie
3/4/2012 10:10:54 am

Thanks ! :))

David Harrington
3/4/2012 10:49:54 pm

I thought this was a very well written rhetorical analysis and I also understand the poem by Maya Angelou, I know why caged birds sing.

3/8/2012 11:01:52 pm

i feel that you made the topic of poetry very appealing with the design of your website. I feel that you gave a very insightful view on poetry as a whole and your rhetorical analysis made the career of poetry very interesting and made me want to actually know more.

DaShawn Robinson
4/1/2012 11:24:29 pm

this is good great way of breaking it down

4/2/2012 11:43:26 pm

i really enjoyed reading this peice. it like the way youi wrote uit i actually understand why the birds sing. you put a new outlook on poetry with your own little twist to it and i love it wonderful desription n all.

4/5/2012 10:34:13 pm

I like this and I also like the poem, I get it and think that it is an intersting insight.

7/17/2012 09:35:36 pm

Thought target, penalize, status, respect, fortitude and even security. These types of some with the concepts that Tang Soo Commence, Vietnamese style with regards to self defense purposes, can tutor individuals along with instilling within your soul the flexibility not just to shield your self nevertheless , the key skill set towards how to spot real danger warnings in order tto avoid potential fight all in all.

3/31/2013 06:08:28 pm

Excellent blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I'd really love to be a part of group where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

9/12/2013 04:17:12 am

I need some help with finding some ethos, pathos, and logas in the story. can anyone help?

2/5/2014 06:56:34 am

wow! this is wonderful, really gave me an insight to this beautiful act. thanks a lot. Great website design.


Leave a Reply.