I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Poem)
A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wing in the orange suns 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.
Written by Maya Angelou
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Maya_the poet

Marguerite Ann Johnson (Maya) born April 4, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri. Marguerite recieved her named "Maya" from her beloved brother Bailey. Maya and Bailey were sent by train when Maya was three, and Bailey four to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their grandmother and uncle. In Stamps, Maya and her brother witnessed racism and segregation in the deep south. When Maya was eight her father comes to take Maya and Bailey back to St. Louis to live with their mother Vivian. Vivian's boyfriend Mr. Freeman, takes advantage of Maya, and ends up raping her. Maya fears he will kill Bailey, and keeps quite at the trial. Later Mr. Freeman is murdered, and Maya refuses to speak. The children are sent back to Stamps, and Maya befriends Mrs. Flowers, who introduces Maya to her first love, author William Shakesphere. During her young life she is treated horrible by a Dentist who tells her he had rather place his hand in a dog's mouth. Racism plays a huge role in Maya's life, yet she contiued to overcome all obstacles. Later she became the first black to become a streetcar conductor. One of Maya's greatest accomplishments. When Maya was sixteen, she became pregnant, and delivered a baby boy named Guy.
"What you looking at me for?
I didn't come to stay..."(3)
In the opening of Maya's story, she is trying to recite a poem for Easter at the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. She is resentful because the dress she is wearing is a white woman's hand me down Momma had altered. Maya was angry and unable to finish the poem as she runs out of the church, a child trips Maya further angering Maya. With so many emotions, Maya ends up outside wetting on herself, crying, and laughing at the same time only to have Bailey comfort and reassure Maya.
"The dress I wore was lavender taffeta, and each time I breathed it rustled, and now that I was sucking in air to breathe out shame it sounded like crepe paper on the back of Hearses."(3)
In Maya's poem "On The Pulse Of The Morning" a rock, a river, a tree all represent people of every color and religion. She expresses her desire for peace and people of all races coming together. Maya's words inspire and encourage peace and harmony.

President Bill Clinton requested Maya Angelou to compose and recite a poem at his 1993 inauguration.
She read her poem "On The Pulse Of The Morning"
This was only the second time a poet has ever recited a poem at a Presidentail inauguration.

"My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped...This might be the end of the world. If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that we were lower types of human being. Only a little higher than the apes".(131)
The black community gathers at "Momma's" store to listen on the radio to Joe Louis defending his heavyweight championship title. The black community holds high regard to Joe, and long for him to defeat his white opponent. They feel if he looses, it takes away their hope of being acknowledged by the white race. After Joe is declared the winner, the crowd felt powerful, and Maya was excited.
"I begged in vain. I was sure to roll over and
crush out his life or break those fragile bones."(281)
Maya's mother had just placed Maya's newborn son in the bed with Maya, who was afraid she would roll over and hurt the baby. It shows how Maya still lacked the confidence she needed to take over the role as mother. With Maya's displacement as a child, you know she is going to be a great mother and rejoice the new life she had help create.
After reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I have great respect for Ms. Angelou. She suffered racism and pain throughout her life.
Her story is sad, yet inspirational for people of all races. She discusses the power a woman can have, if she never gives up. Throughout the book you can feel her emotions and attitude. I enjoyed reading her story, and gained much knowledge from her autobiography. She teaches you everyone must make their own path in life.
I believe the the answer to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is hope! Hope to stay positive while being contained. Maya will not reveal her definition, but wants readers to really think why do you think the caged bird sings? Anyone can overcome adversities and be sucessful.

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Random House: New York.1969

"I Know Thy The Caged Bird Sings" 1 Dec 2008

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"You tube" Maya Angelou 1993 Bill Clinton Inauguration 5 Dec 2008 <http>.