Maya Angelou, a phenomenal American poet and writer has composed various poems. Her work led her to be respected with several honorary degrees and awards. Due to the power of her timely words, she inspired many other contemporary black female authors, including Gwendolyn Brooks and Paule Marshall.
Although Maya is adored mainly for her prose writing, yet her poems also receive more acclaim and attention. She brilliantly connects her readers to her emotions by implying various techniques and styles in her poetry. Her poetry is mainly about love, relationship, struggle and overcoming hardships. The symbols and metaphors she added to her poems function as litotes or coding. Most of the metaphors appeal to the black community only. However, the universal thematic strand appeal to every reader who sits and explores her work at a deeper level.
Although Maya Angelou has written many poems, some of her famous poems are as follows.
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou is a sad poem. It deals with two birds; the free bird and a caged bird. She places both birds in contrast and comments on their way of living. In the beginning, she artistically draws the carefree and joyous flight of the free bird who flaps his wings in the air and freely claims the sky. In contrast, the bird locked in the narrow cage barely sees the vivid images of nature. He, with his tied feet and clipped wings, fails to enjoy even the little Freedom.
To shake the world, the poor bird tries to sing with a fearful trill. He sings for the Freedom he once enjoyed. But, unfortunately, this imprisonment has derived him from the glories of life. In contrast, the free bird thinks of another flight and dreams of visiting other unknown lands, while the caged bird screams in a small cage. All he can do is sing the song of his miserable plight, hoping to relive a free and valuable life.
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“When I Think About Myself” by Maya Angelou
When I Think About Myself is a remarkable poem. It alludes to the struggle of her life. she begins the poem with a special note about herself. She says that thinking about herself makes her laugh to death. The juxtaposition of ideas in the opening lines suggests that her life has not been what it should have been. Expressions like “dance that’s walked” and “song that spoke” hints her discontent as the most joyous moments are reduced to something ordinary.
As the poem goes on, she talks about her distress when she says that she has spent sixty years in a world that makes her feel like an outsider. She does everything to please others with a resultant loss of eternal joy. After talking specifically about herself, she extends her laughter to include her folks or the black community who share the same phenomenon. The thought of her community once again made her laugh so hard that she nearly died. The world’s absurdity is reflected clearly in the poem’s final lines; it makes a woman laugh during her worst times.
“Alone” by Maya Angelou
“Alone” is another inspiring poem that talks about loneliness and reality of the world. It begins when the lonely speaker seems disturbed; her soul is not at peace, and she feels disheartened from the world. To nourish her soul, she desires to speak to people. It seems that loneliness is killing her from the inside out. Therefore, she longs for connection. She dearly believes that people must band together for company and support. To support her idea, she states examples of some people who, despite having wealth, fail to win peace and happiness for themselves. The wives and children of the millionaires are devoid of spiritual wealth. Instead of putting their energies in the right way, they pass their time casually.