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(4 April 1928)

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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
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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Read poems about / on: freedom, sky, sun, wind, dream, tree

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Comments about this poem (Passing Time by Maya Angelou )

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  • Richard Thripp (4/16/2014 7:00:00 PM)

    The Dream of Ultra Cunt...She came on like a dream {peaches & cream}, her ultra cunt magnified to 10 times its glorious texture. Its full-bodied presence & lack of introductory meaning has led many boyfriends astray. Uterine deftness & the same old decor makes for natty dress-downs, upstarts whistlin' “Dixie, ” & worms below grasses...I dream in a harried 3-dimensional way, rain coats: yellow; pus: off-white. My closets are neatly ordered, my boots self-resistant, my ultra turning mega, cuntier & more bountiful, strings attached & mental acuity checked. Meanwhile, in the evening patch of dusk Ultra Cut, I mean Cunt, fastened her chains & dialed directly. She: every ports' call to action, each days' French lesson, threads riled, cartridges loaded, murders every which way you look.

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  • Richard Thripp (4/15/2014 9:06:00 PM)

    Maya F. Angelou is a pig wrapped around a muffin; a dog in heart & withers; a poster bespattered...Welcome to Detroit! Greetings from Camden! Give me a noose. I think I'm hysterical. Off the tracks as this aborticide-seeking mother thrives on hypocrisy!

  • Bremda Hooks (4/11/2014 10:34:00 PM)

    Our ancestors were 'caged birds' with clipped wings and who sang for freedom. Freedom that 'we' now have, to do our will and fly.

  • Richard Thripp (4/10/2014 4:17:00 AM)

    Wonderful Maya Angelou lifted the drunken sailor's wallet. 'He won't be needing this, ' she reasoned, while whispering her usual lament: 'Oh Maya you are God incarnate. What a beautiful Negress you are! Oh my my...' The sailor's good eye opened as he spoke: 'Maya, you are the most fascinating Negress ever! I honor your Negro heritage.'; But I'm more than a member of the race Negroid, she started.; 'No you ain't! ' Sailor Bob insinuated harshly. 'You can't be more than the width of a nose.'

  • Himanshu Mishra (3/16/2014 9:18:00 AM)

    Gave me tears in my eyes......

  • Damo Geka (3/8/2014 12:40:00 PM)

    my Aunty Aria got an awesome twelve month old GMC just by part-time work online... straight from the source http: //

  • Michael Sacco (2/18/2014 8:19:00 PM)

    dignity, liberty, justice

  • Callie May (2/17/2014 12:02:00 PM)

    @Patricia Sanders She also said that she wrote some of the parts of the poem.

  • Callie May (2/17/2014 11:58:00 AM)

    @Patricia Sanders Maya Angelou did not just steal this idea. In the front of the book she put under ACKNOWLEDGMENTS that the title came from Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem Sympathy. So i suggest that you put a little more research into accusing some one of stealing an idea. She is not saying it was her idea. Maya just simply thought that the title would fit her book.

  • Bob Mitchell (2/3/2014 6:41:00 PM)

    @Patricia Saunders - Someone (an artist) once said to me 'All art is plagiarism'. No idea is ever pure and free of an artist's own experience and influences. Angelou has deliberately taken Dunbar's poem and done something different with it, and both works stand on their own as good poems, each to be taken on its own merits.

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