Development Policy and International Relations
(Photo: Dr Maya Angelou)
Maya Angelou, a civil right leader, has been considered as one of the greatest American poets. Her popularities have been reflecting through her achievements as she has pushed the boundaries for African American women, according to the information presented by Prof. Hugh Schuckman.
(To Download e-Book: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
One among her well-known achievements is “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Definitely, we know that caged bird is a bird that is put and kept in the cage and fed by a human as his or her pet. However, in her name of the civil right leader, we can basically assume that her poem is trying to reflect the meaning of this cage bird by comparing the caged bird to a group of people who have been limited on freedom by colors of their skin and their races.
With regard to the title of Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing.” There might have two different perspectives by just looked at it at the first sight. First perspective might believe that caged bird sings because it is enjoying its life with its cage. While at the same time, second perspective may argue that it sings a song, yet it is a song which it is about the difficulties rather than a song of happiness. The latter perspective is more likely a logic meaning of this title. Taking more unambiguous, we should scan quickly to the piece of her poem whether what the exact meaning of the its title is about. Angelou wrote,
“The caged bird sing
with fearful trill
of the thing unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.”
In this connection, we can firmly say that Angelou understands the difficulties of people who want their voices to be heard as they are demanding equality, freedom, same rights to enjoy as the rest people do.
More Importantly, Angelou tried to contrast free and caged birds by giving a significant difference between them. She clearly indicated the inequality in term of freedom and standard of living.In this light, she wrote,
“The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat warms waiting on a down-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.”
While free bird has a very comfortable life, caged bird is living in such a painful condition as she continuing to describe that
“But a caged bird stands on the gave 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.”
From this point of view, she wants to underline the important demand of equality which every one shall enjoy the same freedom and the same rights within the same society. Everyone shall not be discriminated by their colors of skin or by their genders. Therefore, caged bird shall be free and freedom shall be given to all humankind.
To the end, Angelou’s poem entitled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” has an universal value in which it does not only push the limitation of the African American women, but also encourage the protection and promotion of freedom and human rights around the world.
By Khov Ea Hai