#45 | Poem: Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Caged bird by Maya Angelou

Vocabulary

  • CAGED = enjaulado. “The caged bird sings | with a fearful trill | of things unknown”
  • STALK = caminhar de modo irritado, bravo. “But a bird that stalks | down his narrow cage | can seldom see through | his bars of rage”
  • TIED = amarrado. “[…] his feet are tied […]”

Short bio: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her closest family member and friend growing up was her older brother Bailey. When Maya was three years old, she went to live with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Maya and her four-year-old brother traveled to Arkansas all by themselves on a train. While living with her grandmother, Maya’s uncle taught her to read.

When Maya was still a baby, her brother Bailey called her “My Sister.” However, it came out like “Maya Sister.” Eventually, he just started calling her “Maya” and the nickname stuck. She got the last name “Angelou” from her first husband.

When Maya was seven, she moved back to St. Louis to live with her mother. Her mother’s boyfriend sexually abused her at that age and the events that followed caused Maya to become a mute, not speaking for several years.

At the age of fourteen, she won a scholarship to study dance and drama at the California Labor School, yet she soon left school, becoming the first African American female streetcar conductor. Maya eventually went into acting, and even started writing her own material.

During the 1960s, Maya worked as a civil rights activist. She first worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and became the Northern coordinator for his organization. Later, she worked for Malcolm X, but was devastated when he was assassinated. She continued to work for the rights of African-Americans and women throughout her career.

Although Maya had a lot of interests and careers, her true love was writing. She always worked on and off as a writer. At first, she considered herself a playwright and a poet, but that changed in 1968 when she attended a dinner party. At the party, Maya told some stories from her early life. Some people encouraged her to write her story.

In 1969, Maya published her first autobiography called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The book tells the story of her life up until the age of seventeen. In the book, Maya captures the many struggles she went through growing up as an African-American woman in the mid-1900s. She also shows how she overcame these issues through character, books, and words.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings became a huge success and was on The New York Times paperback bestseller list for two years. It made Maya an international star and allowed her to write full time.     

Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
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 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.

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

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.

Source: https://www.ducksters.com/biography/authors/mayaangelou.php

      

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