Maya Angelou

“Puede que tengas que enfrentarte a muchas derrotas pero nunca debes acabar derrotado”. The hard life of this African-American woman is summarized in this phrase.  She was born in St. Louis (Missouri) the 1928. Her childhood was full of hard times. Her brother and she had to live for a long time with her ​​grandmother because her parents’s divorce. The 10 years spent with her grandmother in Stamps (Arkansas) provided her the most of the materials she would use in her famous autobiography: I know why the caged bird sings. In the book describes what it meant to be a colored girl in the state of Arkansas in the decades of 30 and 40.

When she was 8 years old she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After revealing the name of the attacker, Angelou had to go through trials and later for the murder of the rapist caused by her uncles. So, she realized that her words had the power to kill and she spent 5 years in silence. Decades later, the writer said: “Escribo para recuperar la voz negra y para todos aquellos oidos que quieran oirla”. Later, during her adolescence she had a brief drop in prostitution and she also got into the drug world.

But her political activism and her commitment to literature enabled her to get out of this deep well. Over the 60 and 70 decades Angelou was involved in the struggle for civil rights of her people. On the other hand, she traveled to several African countries where she worked as editor of newspapers and collaborate on humanitarian projects.

In addition to his autobiography, Angelou is a great writer of poems, here goes a poem based on his book:

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

The free bird leaps

on the back of the win

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

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 fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and is tune is heard

on the distant hillfor the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

an 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.

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