Although both poems share various similarities about the enclosed bird’s dedicated battle, they differ as “Sympathy” has a restricted form whereas “Caged Bird” has an unpredictable form 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 states, In this quote, readers can observe the stanza’s restricted rhyming pattern and 7-10 range of syllables, emphasizing the enclosed bird’s restrained decisions, manipulated actions, and lack of individuality. Additionally, while the poem’s square-shaped structure creates the effect of a cage, readers can observe several lines advancing to the right, demonstrating the captured bird’s slight opportunity at annihilating his boundaries. Furthermore, the poem’s time period in 1899 explains its regulated structure and implicit representation of African American’s hopeless battles.
On the contrary, “Caged Bird” contains an erratic rhyming pattern and an unlimited syllable count, emphasizing a purposefully inconsistent form. Angelou explains, In this quote, the poem’s unstable rhyming pattern and syllable count portrays the enclosed bird’s hopeful battle against limitations, therefore providing a glimpse of African American’s deserved opportunities. Beginning with a regulated form, the poem’s shape suddenly transforms and breaks, but quickly returns to its restricted shape, therefore specifically hinting African American’s possibility of liberty. 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.