Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Within the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose lies Angelou’s unique power to help readers of every orientation span the lines of race and Angelou captivates audiences through the vigor and sheer beauty of her words and lyrics. Maya Angelou’s writings have always been geared toward social events and trends in socity. The Civil Rights movment, femonist movment, and the ecomoic/socail revolution inspried some of Maya Angelou’s famous writings and earned her the right to be considered one of the voices of her generation.
Maya Angelou has dedicated her life to end prejudices faced by many black females in the 20th century.
As an author, poet, and entertainer, she is known best for
her strong portrayal of African-American women.
In her book, “Just Give Me A Cool Drink Of Water Fore I Diiie” she states, “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.” This stanza tells the reader about the life of the caged bird. She discovered early on what it was like to be a black girl in a world where boundaries were set for her by whites. In the 60s, she was a friend to both Martin Luther King Jr. This illustration of the life of the free bird reminds us of how all birds were intended to live, and creates a sharp contrast to the stanza to come. ” Growing up in Stamps, Maya learned what it was like to be a black girl in a world where boundaries were set for her by whites.
Understanding Maya Angelou’s religious upbringing and faith in God is the key to understanding her as a black female poet and writer in America. The caged bird is symbolic of how Maya feels about life. She is the caged bird. The cage is the racsim and pejudice in America against Africa-Americans and females. Maya’s poetry is her song. God meant for birds and Maya to sing. God also meant for birds to be free. Maya’s faith in God has freed her to sing her beautiful poetry. Her religious upbringing gave her the courage to sing through her poetry as a black female trapped in an invisable cage made of racial prejudice and economic poverty. Maya Angelou literally and sybolically sings through her writing and her poetry. The caged bird is sybolic of a black female learning to cope and fight against the the racist attitudes and realities that exist in America. Maya knows why the caged bird sings because she realizes she is a caged bird in a oppressive society. A caged bird can sing a beautiful song or a black female in America can write beautiful poetry. Her belief in God set her free to express herself without fear of reprisal. Maya’s determination and drive to succed as a poet, literally sets her free from the socity she is imprisioned in both as a child and a young woman. A bird is set free when it sings whether it’s caged or not. The act of singing or freely expressin oneself through poetry sets a person free. The soul and spirit cannot be caged. A true belief in God set Maya Angelou free to pursue her dreams and use the literrary talents . She learns to be free of the racial shackles that oppressed her people. Like Maya states in her the old Negro Hymnal, “We shall overcome“. Maya Reveals how her belief in God shapes her life and unlocked yer cell doors. This has allowed maya Angelou to become one of the most famous writers of the 21st cntury.
Maya Angelou was an insperation for black women of her time; she shed light on the opresion of black women during this time and there daily stuggles in her Poem “Woman Work” which is found in her book “Just Give Me A Cool Drink Of Water Fore I Diiie” In its first stanza, the rhyming on the last words in consecutive lines makes the stanza flow nicely and sound like a simple To Do list. On the surface, that’s what it is. But once you read each individual task, the reader learns that the speaker’s daily workload is not so simple. Angelou’s use of sound vs. meaning adds to the irony of the first stanza.
Angelou’s use of articles instead of possessive pronouns when referring to her tasks shows that she doesn’t do this for herself and therefore confirms her role as a servant in the poem. When she mentions her last task of the day “cotton to pick,” the reader learns that she is a black woman.
-There is a shift after the first stanza. The Angelou goes from listing her daily routine to wishing she could get away from it and “rest.” Each of the last four stanzas talk to some force of nature such as, “sunshine, rain, snow”; through which Angelou expresses the speakers helplessness. She can’t ask anyone for her but nature, which is powerless to do so. Angelou uses personification to get this idea across. In the first stanza she ask the sun to shine down on her and the rain to “cool her brow again.” She just wants to relax and not have to work so hard for something that doesn’t even directly benefit her. In the third stanza, she asks the wind to “blow [her] away from here” and “let [her] float across the sky.” Comparing this stanza to the one before it, her feelings towards her work become more negative. In the 2nd stanza she wanted to rest, whereas in this one she wants to escape. Her longing for escape becomes even stronger in the next stanza, which is full of images of winter. Winter symbolizes death and how the speaker feels its the only way she can truly be at rest.
The last line of the poem restates her helplessness. “You’re all that I can call my own.” She has no one to turn to but nature; no one to turn to but death. This picce of literature is so powerfull ,becuse it not only provides a profound look at the role of a black woman in the early 1960’s, but it also alwos you to see the world through the eye’s of a black woman and feel her pain.
Maya Angelou grew up in a time of greate depression for america and expesaily for balck people in america. As the depesion ended black Americans had just started to have rights. Education was becoming more avalable to minorites. Angelou took advantage of this socail shitf and got all the education she could. In her early works she uses a lot of slang termanolgy and poems that lack in substance. Socail awarnenesss gave birth to age of enlightenment and Insperation in the black community. Angelou was inspired by Shakespers, Poe, Dickenson, Kipling and Bronte sisters. As the Black communty grew stroger so did Angelou and her writing. Angelou traveled the world learning and teaching. Her Poetry blossomed, more and more she began to write about love and happiness. She nolonger wrote about the sad and depressing futre that faced african americans. Angelou spoke of fighting for your right; she spoke of sarfice, dedication, empowerment and unity. The Harlem Renasnse inspired her to take risk and right about women being sexually free and plitialy active. Angelou’s sucssess made her finacaly stable and allwed her to spead her message of hope all across america. Her poety showed that she was no longer contorled by fear. As the war on rasicm raged on Angello wrote many peasce expessing her passion for what she belieed in. Angelou was willing to die for her belifes. her writing were fueled by the socal injustices.