You are on page 1of 6


Emily Evans English 1020 Poetry Analysis Mr. Thoma 3/5/13 Poetry Analysis Poems inspire people, they allow them to hide their true feelings through hidden meaning, and convince people that the world really does get better than what they are currently experiencing. Most of all, “Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of the great and feeling souls” (Voltaire). Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, and John Donne’s “Song: Sweetest Love, I do not go” and “A Lecture upon the Shadow” all use multiple literary elements to further convey their numerous messages. In Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, she uses literary elements imagery, alliteration, and rhyme to give this poem a ballad tone. In the first stanza the speaker describes the life of a “free” bird, and how it is able to roam the skies without concern of being trapped, it has the freedom of variety. This stanza may represent what the speaker desires, but cannot attain. The second and third stanzas go on to talk about how the bird that is caught in a cage is held against its will, and is contemptuous because of it. However, the bird still has hope of knowing the unknown, but is fearful of it. His singing is not hindered by the fact that he is fenced in. The fourth stanza goes back to the free bird, and how he does not have to concern

so he is resentful towards them. and the bird continues to sing. he seems angry. they feel stuck in their current situation and is trying to work through it to someday be free. “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”. However. the speaker uses alliteration to give this stanza a very sing song appeal. He simply lives his life without thinking anything of it. so maybe if he sings of freedom. an undertone of jealousy is apparent. even though it is gloomy as it describes the caged bird. I think that this poem symbolizes a person that wants to do something different in life. and his feet are tied. The last two stanzas go back to talking about the caged bird. Finally. then he will be set free. He sees the cage bars as being the only thing holding him back from freedom. but still yearns to be let free again. When the caged bird is introduced. The rhyme scheme is scattered throughout the poem. and four there is not a pattern with rhyming. This may mean that he is new to this cage and is not used to the new environment. The third stanza could be seen as bargaining. “But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” in lines 26 and 27. “But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage” (lines 8-11). especially in the first stanza when the speaker describes the free bird flying. By this point in the poem. I think this poem is almost therapeutic. in the last stanza the caged bird seems to accept his life in the cage. then in stanza six it is “abcbdbef”. In line 27. three. like in stanzas one. two.himself with the problems that being held captive brings. In the fifth stanza the speaker sounds depressed about the caged bird’s situation when he/she says. In the first stanza the free bird is introduced and is happy. Maya Angelou is known for being a very strong and . In stanzas four and five the pattern is “aabc”. even though it has a lot of other things to be negative about. Imagery is seen throughout the poem. The speaker talks about how the bird is unable to fly. and goes through the stages of grief. and therefore “stalks” through the cage.

“When thou sigh'st. and is describing what is happening to the men on the losing side of the mêlée. In the last stanza he comforts her by saying that nothing bad will happen. to the sun because it must leave the day every 12 hours to allow night to ensue. This also hints that he views the thing that is taking him away is fate and cannot be fought victoriously. This poem is depicting a naval battle. the speaker suggests that his power is weak compared to what is pulling him away from her. In the fourth stanza she starts to become upset because of his departure. In the third stanza. I do not go”. because they have a place for each other in their hearts. The rhyme scheme remains the same throughout the entire poem as “ababcddc”. and he replies by saying that he is already letting him go through her tears and sighs because he is part of her. uses literary elements rhyme and alliteration to make his poem sound like a song. The alliteration used in the poem is easiest demonstrated in lines 25 and 26 when the speaker says. and is telling them that need to separated because of a duty he needs to follow through with (maybe to be a priest?). so this poem may describe her fight to be noticed. He goes on to say that she is the best part of him in line 32. also written by John Donne called “A Burnt Ship”. the speaker is talking to the person he/she loves. and that they will never be actually apart. thou sigh'st not wind. John Donne’s poem “Song: Sweetest love. In this poem the most prolific literary device is imagery. The last poem I chose is a far less common poem. The losing ship is continuing to fire back . Throughout this poem. but also has an obvious “abbacdc” rhyme scheme. But sigh'st my soul away”.3 independent woman that fought to have her voice heard after being raped. In the second stanza the speaker uses a metaphor to compare his duty of leaving her.

the speaker says that even though some men chose to stay in the ship to burn to death. and a lawyer!). This poem could be symbolizing people’s lives in that they really do not have the choice of how they die. which is sort of ironic. Common literary elements among these poems include imagery. and almost sunk. and Donne’s “Song: Sweetest love. John Donne’s background is very religious (he was a priest . and alliteration. and in “A Burnt Ship” most of the sailors want to die by drowning in their present situation. “But drowning could be rescued from the flame”. I do not go” could be described as a song. Both Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”. . unless it is by their own hand. this means that the men are faced with the choice of drowning or burnt to death. the lovers in “Song: Sweetest love. In line two. so the fact that they did not have to burn to death could also symbolize that they had done nothing in life to make them “burn”. rhyme. or go to hell. The caged bird wanted to be set free of a bad situ ation. they ended up drowning. I do not go” want to stay together but the lover has to leave because of a fated duty. All three of these poems have a theme in common. In the end of the poem. which is longing or desire for they have been fired upon.

Yesternight the sun went hence. Nor in hope the world can show A fitter love for me. since I take More wings and spurs than he. But believe that I shall make Speedier journeys. 7 But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing. That if good fortune fall. Cannot add another hour. He hath no desire nor sense. 14 The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and is tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom 21 The free bird thinks of another breeze an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own. I do not go. Sweetest love. But since that I Must die at last. O how feeble is man's power. 37 The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky. Nor a lost hour recall! 8 16 .5 Poems “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” Maya Angelou his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing 29 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. 1 For weariness of thee. 25 But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream “Song: Sweetest love. 3. And yet is here today. Nor half so short a way: Then fear not me. I do not go” John Donne 1. 'tis best To use myself in jest Thus by feign'd deaths to die. 2.

Let not thy divining heart Forethink me any ill. It cannot be That thou lov'st me. And we join to'it our strength. and ever as they came Near the foes' ships. 40 4. 32 5. Itself o'er us to'advance. And we teach it art and length. 24 And may thy fears fulfil. When thou sigh'st. they in the burnt ship drown'd. If in thine my life thou waste. thou sigh'st not wind. Some men leap'd forth. Destiny may take thy part. They who one another keep Alive. “A Burnt Ship” John Donne Out of a fired ship. They in the sea being burnt. But think that we Are but turn'd aside to sleep. That art the best of me.But come bad chance. When thou weep'st. ne'er parted be. unkindly kind. as thou say'st. So all were lost. did by their shot decay. . which by no way But drowning could be rescued from the flame. My life's blood doth decay. which in the ship were found. But sigh'st my soul away.

Related Interests