Satire in A Little Bird I Am

Satire Examples in A Little Bird I Am:

Text of the Poem 3

"please..."   (Text of the Poem)

The careful reader will read this line as incongruous. Rather than resenting her captor, the caged bird “most loves” to please him. Although the speaker says this line earnestly, readers should hear the claim through her situation: without choice or recourse to do anything else, without knowledge or experience of the outside world, the speaker can only gain pleasure from singing to the man who stole her freedom. The speaker’s pleasure in entertaining her oppressor is another sign of her oppression and another catalyst for the reader’s rage.

"A little bird I am..."   (Text of the Poem)

When word order is inverted from a typically normal structure, as it is here, it is known as hyperbaton. Alcott’s use of this particular device in the opening line of the poem not only emphasizes the speaker’s “I am,” but it also subtly indicates an inversion in how the text is presented and how it should be read. This means that readers should consider much of the poem as satirical, or mocking.

"it pleases Thee!..."   (Text of the Poem)

Building on the inversion from the first line in the poem, the speaker provides us with a stronger example of sarcasm. Along with the absurd notion that a captive would be happy to be a prisoner, the exclamation mark at the end of this line provides a sarcastic twist. The logic here is also suspect: the little bird is pleased to be a prisoner because He is pleased to have her as a prisoner. This evidence further lends itself to a reading of the poem as a condemnation of the institutions that prevent women from having agency and authority in their own lives.