Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sing a Song of Freedom

Maya Angelou
Hello everyone!  I know that it has been a while since I wrote my last post, and I apologize for the period of inactivity.  My school work in other classes has required so much of my focus and time that I have not been able to submit posts.  However, I am now back and committed to posting.  To make up for time lost, I have decided to provide you with poems and commentary on a daily basis for the next few days up until this Friday, which is when all posts to this blog must be submitted. 

Today, I would like to share with you one of my favorite poems written by Maya Angelou, who is in my opinion the Queen of poetry.  It’s entitled, “I know why the caged bird sings.”  I hope you enjoy! 

I know why the caged bird sings 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 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.

I hope you all enjoyed the poem.  Here’s what I think it could teach us:

There are moments in life in which we find ourselves trapped in unfavorable circumstances.  Have you ever found yourself in a certain situation that hindered you from being your true self?  Do you have a personal secret that you wish to tell but are afraid to do so in fear of other’s reactions?  Are you a college student living under the pressure of your parents to pursue a particular course of study and/or career path that you do not desire to follow?  Perhaps, you are dissatisfied with your job but can not quit because you are having trouble finding another one.      

Feeling trapped in undesirable circumstances can cause us to experience a range of emotions: sadness, frustration, and anger.  Like the caged bird in the poem, we are desperate and yearn to be free. 

In this poem, Angelou rather narrates her own personal experience of being trapped in an unfavorable circumstance.  When Angelou was a child, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.  The boyfriend told her not to tell anyone, but Angelou eventually told her older brother, who later told the rest of their family.  The boyfriend was charged and found guilty, but he only spent one day in jail.  Four days after his release, he was found dead in an ally.  It was rumored that he had been kicked to death by Angelou’s uncles.  Angelou said that she felt responsible for his death; she felt that her voice had killed him.  As a result, Angelou describes that she became mute for the next five years.  However, she states that during those years of being trapped in guilt and muteness, she began to regain her freedom by finding an outlet in reading literature and participating in the arts.  Today, having established herself as a well-accomplished and widely acclaimed poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist, Angelou consistently tells her story and encourages people to simply sing when they can not be freed.        

By singing, I believe Angelou to mean that we should find outlets to help us endure the pain of our entrapment.  She suggests that these outlets are also the means by which we regain our freedom. 

As the poem so eloquently suggests, when we find ourselves trapped in cages of undue circumstance, we must refuse to remain as the caged bird, for it is the free bird that has joy and peace.  We must press towards liberty and must belt out our freedom tune through outlets in writing, reading, singing, dancing, working, or any other special hobbies that we may posses.  But most importantly, we must find outlets within our heart and conscience.  No matter how much the pain of our entrapment may intensify, we must let our hearts continue to yearn for freedom.  We must let our thoughts continue to dream of freedom, for these outlets will not allow us to grow complacent towards our circumstances of turmoil.  They will remind us of our destined freedom, will refresh our courageous strength when it falters, and will encourage us to keep pressing.

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