Maya Angelou 5 heart-stopping poems that changed the world

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Marguerite Annie Johnson, better known to the world as Maya Angelou, graced our earth from 1928 to 2014. The cause of death unknown, but her legacy lived on.

Maya Angelou was an acclaimed writer, poet, actress, and civil rights, activist. Here claim to fame was the book she wrote, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” She wrote her book as an autobiography in 1969, depicting her early years. She takes a deeper look into subjects such as racism, rape, and literacy.

Maya Angelou was well known for her poetry, but her style of poems was difficult to classify. She did not use a set rhyming scheme, but the dialect found in many of her poems is known as the Black Secular, a simple English form with metaphors relating to slavery.

Maya Angelou 5 Heart-Stopping Poems That Changed The World

Although Maya Angelou wrote 167 poems, some are more notable than others. So here today, I want to cover 5 of her most memorable poetry moments that have changed the world around us.

maya angelou

Caged Bird

Possibly Maya’s most popular and moving poem was Caged Bird. Her mom’s boyfriend raped Maya at the age of 7. When she spoke his name, the man was found dead from a severe beating. Maya believed her voice caused death, so for 7 more years, she only spoke to her brother and no one else. In her poem, she tells us how she felt after the rape with the metaphor of a caged bird.

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 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 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 touched by an angel

Touched By An Angel

Maya has an eye-opening way of conveying to us how it is to love and be loved. Life without love is lonely, but it adds both pain and pleasure to our lives when we find love.

By Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Phenomenal Woman

“Phenomenal Woman” is, by far, one of my favorite poems that Maya wrote. She is empowering all women to believe in themselves and believes they are sexy and capable of exactly all things they set out to do.

Right off the bat, Maya gives women confidence and strength with her description of what a real woman looks like.

By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Alone

In Maya’s poem “Alone,” she talks of loneliness and how alone one can feel in this vast world. Yet, she clearly tells us that we need each other to make it. We need the support of each other to tackle the problems that come our way.

By Maya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

maya angelou pin

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Still I Rise

There is power in the words of “Still I Rise.” Power for every woman, past and present, gives each of us the strength to rise above the adversities of life. Maya is such a beautiful poet that she can show strength and convey it to the reader with each word she speaks.

By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Summary

These are just 5 of the many poems Maya Angelou wrote in her lifetime. She was an incredible woman who will live on in our lives through her words and actions forever.

In 1994 she wrote “The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.” It is worth every penny you pay for it to have all of her works at your hand. You can find it on Amazon or at your favorite book store.

Do enjoy and stay tuned for more of Maya Angelou and the wonderous works she contributed to our world.

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