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Caged Bird
Maya Angelou

Exploring imprisonment, confinement and the urge for freedom, this poem vividly illustrates inequality. Comparing the life of a caged and a free bird, the speaker investigates the caged bird’s captivity, oppression and hope for liberation. It can be read as a metaphor portraying unequal treatment and discrimination against African-Americans during the civil rights era.

When exploring “Caged Bird” with your students, you might want to include the author’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). Maya Angelou experienced racial injustice herself and fought together with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the Civil Rights Movement. Her works are suitable for interdisciplinary teaching projects on racism and segregation and can be related to current cases of police violence against people of colour in the US or the Black Lives Matter protest movement.

· · 1983

Critical edition

Angelou, Maya. "Caged Bird." Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry. Virago, 2015. 38 l., ISBN 9780349006215

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In favour of this entry

  • Addresses current affairs
  • Classic
  • Democratic and political education
  • Explores historical contexts
  • Gender equality
  • Intercultural perspectives
  • Interdisciplinary or cross-curricular teaching
  • Silenced voices