For Group and Individual Classes in Kandy by R.C. Fernando (The author of this website) A veteran Teacher of Literature with more than 25 years experience...

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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.

Maya Angelou (Marguerite Ann Johnson) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928 to Bailey Johnson, a door attendant, a naval dietitian, and Vivian Baxter Johnson, a nurse, a real estate agent and later a merchant marine. Angelou’s brother, Bailey Johnson Jr., gave her the nickname “Maya”.

Maya Angelou is an American poet, memoirist, actress, Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was nominated for a National Book Award and called her magnum opus. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Angelou recited her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She has been highly honored for her body of work, including being awarded over 30 honorary degrees.

In March 2008, Angelou stated that she plans to spend part of the year studying at the Unity Church. Angelou became involved in American presidential politics in 2008 by placing her public support behind Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nominee, despite her good friend Winfrey’s public support of Barack Obama.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography about the early years of author Maya Angelou’s life. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings begins when three-year-old Angelou and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their grandmother and ends when Angelou becomes a mother at age sixteen.

The American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring suffrage in Southern states. In 1966, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from White domination. Many of those who were most active in the Civil Rights Movement, with organizations such as SNCC, CORE and SCLC, prefer the term of Southern Freedom Movement because the struggle was about far more than just civil rights under law; it was also about fundamental issues of freedom, respect, dignity, and economic and social equality

Noted legislative achievements during this phase of the Civil Rights Movement were passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, that banned discrimination in employment practices and public accommodations; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that restored and protected voting rights; the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, that dramatically opened entry to the America to immigrants other than traditional European groups; and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, that banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

Maya Angelou’s racially centered poetry has a very powerful tone. Maya poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is about the repression of the African American race, she uses her coming-of-age story to illustrate the ways in which racism and trauma can be overcome by a strong character and a love of literature. As a young black woman growing up in the South, and later in war time San Francisco, Maya Angelou faced racism from whites and poor treatment from many men.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings written at the end of American Civil Rights movement, the poet was inspired by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader in the American civil rights movement. A Baptist minister, he became a civil rights activist early in his career. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

The structural elements of poems include the line, couplet, strophe and stanza. Poets combine the use of language and a specific structure to create imaginative and expressive work. The forms of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings poem is described as a lyric that write in combine Quintets and Quatrains stanzas. As lyric form categories, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a short poem expressing personal thoughts and feelings. It is meditative for a single speaker speaks it about his feelings for a person, object, event or idea.

Lines are arranged into groups known in poetry as stanzas. The types of rhyme that are used usually depend on the tone of the verse. In the rhyming I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings poem, each stanza follows the rhyming scheme of AAAB, as in the third and sixth stanza. The flexibility of the first two lines in the stanza following a rhyming scheme symbolizes the imprisonment of the bird. Each stanza follows the rhyming scheme of AAAB (thrill, hill, shrill, freedom). The rigidity of the first three lines in following a rhyming scheme signifies the captivity of the bird. However, the last phrase of each stanza breaks off from the rhyme with the last word being far from the original rhyme: “trill, still, hill, freedom.

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is applied to another, thereby suggesting a likeness or analogy between them. Maya Angelou’s touching poem revolves around the theme of freedom. On the subject of freedom, Maya Angelou impressively uses effective metaphors, choice words that resemble her people, themes, diction, rhythm scheme, imagery, and paradoxes that bring out within Maya and the reader feelings that represent thriving anger and injustice. “Bars of rage” is a metaphor that represents the imprisonment of innocent slaves throughout history.

The poem of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is told about the heroic of the perfect and good leader to guide the minority black race for out from suffer and lead them to get the acknowledgement of the same right for the majority white people, caged in this poem refers to the majority. In the first couplet, tell about the free and charismatic person leader that comes for their hope. The savior comes from the majority people, which proved on the free bird that spread his wings freely that can come and go easily to break the majority rules.

Second couplet is talk about the savior vision to rise up of minority level into as same as the majority have. He supports the fear people and invites them together with dare and no fearless to challenge the authority for their roles. With all of his power and his ability, he led the minority to sound of freedom from the authority tyranny. In the third couplet is figure out the reaction of the majority for the impact of the minority people. They begin calculated and little dares of the minority fight that shows on the caged bird sing in fearful and they realize if their regime will not longer and changing for the new world and role. For this condition is used by the black people to rise their movements and courage them fight into the majority acknowledgements to realize their existence as the freedom people and have the same right to them.

In the forth couplet tell about the death of the savior on his great name and left the spirit to continue his fight. This is kind of the sadness words from the black people for them lovely leader and put his name as the basic of their spirit to reach their dream as a freedom people. For the fifth couplet is response of the white people, they such as have a fresh air to continue their dream to spread their intimidation and terror more. Than in the last couplet telling the never-ending fight for the black people until they reach the glorious dream and push the white people to recognize black people level and their freedom.