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Monday, March 5, 2012

52 Week 10 - Maya Angelou: Free as a bird


Rest Easy

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved poetry. I grew up with literature of all kinds; essays, short stories, novels, and most important of all to my development as a nascent write: Poetry. I was maybe 10 when I read my first Maya Angelou Poem. Since then, I was hooked. 
 
It would take another 6 years before I read her first (of 6) autobiographies ‘I know why the Caged Bird sings.’ I had always admired her poetry, but learning of her biography, her pain and struggle, her strive to lift herself from her impoverished upbringing, made me appreciate her work even more. Her writing has always spoken to me, and it would be an understatement to say that it changed my life. Beyond just her writing, she was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement and has relentlessly advocated for people of color. She has richly deserved all the accolades she has received. Her poem ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ is still one of the more succinct, and touching poems I’ve read in a long time.

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 is 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.
 

She’s my second favourite poet of all time, and I could read or listen to her work every day for the rest of my life.

Greatest quote:
“All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated"

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