Finally, while both poems share similarities regarding the enclosed bird’s dedication against restrictions, they differ as “Sympathy” has a restricted form whereas “Caged Bird” has an unpredictable structure, contributing to their different perspectives about the possibility of liberty for African Americans. On one side, “Sympathy” consists of a predictable rhyming pattern and a controlled syllable count, providing an intentionally limited form. Dunbar writes, “I know what the caged bird feels, alas! When the sun is bright on the upland slopes; When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass And the river flows like a stream of glass;” (1-4)In this quote, readers can observe the stanza’s restricted rhyming pattern and 7-10 range of syllables, explaining the enclosed bird’s restrained decisions and lack of individuality. Additionally, while the square-shaped structure creates the effect of a cage, readers can observe several lines advancing to the right, demonstrating the enclosed bird’s slight opportunity at fighting back against his boundaries. Furthermore, the poem’s time period in 1899 explains its regulated structure and indirect representation of African American’s hopeless opportunity for liberty. On the contrary, “Caged Bird” contains an erratic rhyming pattern and an unlimited syllable count, emphasizing a purposefully inconsistent form.
Angelou explains, “The free bird thinks of another breeze and 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” (23-26) In this quote, contrarily to “Sympathy,” the author’s unstable rhyming pattern and syllable count portray the enclosed bird’s hopeful battle against injustices. Beginning with a regulated form, the poem’s shape suddenly breaks, but quickly returns to its restricted shape, therefore only hinting African American’s possibility of gaining their deserved advantages. Written in 1983, the poem’s recent time period explains its hopeful structure and enables readers to observe the beginning of African American’s true decisions and rebellion. Thus, “Sympathy’s” restricted form differs from “Caged Bird’s” uncontrollable rhyming pattern and erratic syllable count, therefore demonstrating contrasting views about African American’s opportunity for liberty.