Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

#NationalPoetryMonth is still going strong. Here is one of my favorites by the late, Maya Angelou. I become enthralled with her work in the 5th grade while researching “Phenomenal Woman” for a poetry series. From there, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” was the first autobiography I read – while my peers were reading Harry Potter.

Dr. Maya Angelou is still a source of inspiration for my own writing and memoir. This poem as also inspired other artists, such as Alicia Keys. Following the poem is a short video of Keys singing “Caged Bird” from her debut album, Songs in A Minor.

 

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.

 
Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

 

Alicia Keys – Caged Bird

 

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