Maya Angelou

{b.1928}
St. Louis, Missouri

Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri as Marguerite Ann Johnson. She was second born with an older brother that nicked named her Maya. When Maya was three years old her parents marriage ended and their father sent her and her brother to live with their grandmother, Annie Henderson. Four years later Maya and her brother were returned into her mothers care. At the age of eight Maya was molested by her mothers boyfriend Mr. Freeman. He was put into jail for one day and was murdered the next day by one of Maya's uncles. After that she became mute for five years. She quoted "I thought my voice killed him; I killed that man because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone."

Around 1965 is when she started to focus on her writing career. She wrote for some newspapers but nothing to serious. She would jump from job to job doing soundtracks and dancing. But in 1972 she wrote a screen play. This was the first screen play ever to be written by a black women. The play was filmed and produced by a Swedish film Company. After this she became a teacher. She titled herself as a "teacher who loves to write." A lot of her poems where inspired by her rough childhood and about her great grandmother.

This poem is about what the relationship between the African American and the White man. The free bird represents the white man and the caged bird represents the African American.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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.

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.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

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.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

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.

Maya Angelou

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings/