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WHEN THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

December 1, 2022

My backyard is a sanctuary for nature’s chimes, whistles and bells. Yesterday a Kingfisher came and perch on the high wall once more. In the gloaming – the most romantic time of day – I could swear it was the same visitor of last year. They seem to have the same type of mannerism according to my nostalgia; kingfisher-blue dinner jacket and a head that popped and fizzed with interesting never- ending ideas and always on the lookout.

I searched my media library hoping to find the orginal photo of the Kingfisher which I photographed last year. Unfortunately I can’t find it hence this handsome substitute to give you an idea of the look. A real bespoke feathered overcoat, Im sure you would agree. Looking out from the back door with twilight quickly becoming a darker evening light, I was reluctant to fetch my camera. With that feeling the bird flew away and I closed the door.

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. – Maya Angelou.

Next morning the day had hardly begun and we were out the door to get some fresh air in the soft after-the-rain morning light. The earth still moist; petrichor lifting the all the smells of soil to the nose, a fresh and musky scent permeated the air. An invigorating invitation to enjoy the day.

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. – Maya Angelou

Look who we came across- trapped in the trampoline was the Kingfisher who sat highly perched on the wall the evening before. He looked distressed and inwardly wounded. I think he must have spent the whole night confined. He began to flutter when he felt my presence. His eyes looked exhausted and terribly scared. Panic was evident, he had no idea how to lift himself up high, and there was not enough space to take off and fly away. I also became a bit frantic and with my erratic quest to help he threw himself on his back and pretended he was dead. In that moment I wanted to die, stricken by the thought that my fluttering panic caused his death. This luckily was the chance to lift him out of his entrapment, which I did.

I had no chance to photograph him when he was laying on his back. Neither could I snap him when he was frantically trying to escape by flying into the net from one side of the trampoline to the other. By throwing himself on his back and pretending to die he actually orchestrated his freedom. I took him to the bird wash, splashed his beak and feathers, then held him lightly, lifted my hands and in two ticks he leaped upon the wind and dared to claim the sky.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Is a poem by the great and renowned US poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou who died in 2014. Her story of caged bird stayed with me all the time as I was tending the Kingfisher. It played out vividly before me, witnessing the anxious song of a a caged bird and its exuberance at the first and best opportunity to take flight.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
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 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

While Maya Angelou is best known today for her writing — as the author of more than 30 books and the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees — she had many different careers before becoming a writer, and all before the age of 40. Angelou’s jobs included: cook, waitress, sex-worker, dancer, actor, playwright, editor at an English-language newspaper in Egypt, Calypso singer, and cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess. In fact, Angelou’s name is more of a stage name than a pen name; Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis in 1928, but in the 1950s came up with “Maya Angelou,” which is a portmanteau of sorts, by combining her childhood nickname and a riff on her then-husband’s surname. – BY OLIVIA B. WAXMAN 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Maya Angelou’s first book. Angelou’s breakout work is particularly relevant. Long before the MeToo and TimesUp movements brought sexual assault into the national conversation, she wrote in her 1969 memoir about her own experience with sexual trauma, and how her mother’s boyfriend raped her when she was a child. He was convicted and imprisoned, and after his release he was beaten to death, a series of events that led her to stop talking for a period. ‘Caged Bird‘, or ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ as the poem is sometimes referred to, is arguably one of the most moving and eye-opening poems ever written. The poem is famous for its intimate description of freedom, and for the role of thevpersonal voice as a true element of it. Yet, there is also an interesting message from a leadership and development perspective. A free Bird dares to claim the sky, showing how important freedom is to achieve our most difficult goals. Begging the question from an organizational point of view; how many wings of our people have we clipped and stopped them from becoming someone bigger, buoyant and brighter? Freedom must be enabled; to unleash the human potential.

Considering her complicated life, it’s perhaps no surprise that Angelou wrote seven autobiographies, the last one being released just about a year before her death. Writing — though a career arrived at late in life — was what she did.

“I’ll probably be writing,” she said, “when the Lord says, ‘Maya, Maya Angelou, it’s time.

Notes from 1 December 2022.

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5 Comments
  1. An opportune rescue of a winged dinner jacket feathered bespoke visitor. And a fabulous heartwarming stroll through the highlights of a literary and creative legend of this era…Maya!!! Thank you for a fabulous share.
    P.S. I enjoyed the breathtaking drama of the rescue! 🐦

    • Good morning Poet, 🙂.
      Love how you tailored my feathered bespoke visitor 😊
      Maya Angelou’s scholars will ensure that her life and work are studied through the ages.
      You are most welcome. It was a joy to walk through this poem again
      Thank you.

  2. What a splendid piece of writing. I have been meaning to comment on this since I saw it and just loved reading the whole thing through and through. I think that it was indistinguishable from a best-seller hahaha. I really have to give you my top honors for the way you delivered this and how you tied in the situation of a bird that dears to claim the sky with the story of Maya Angelou; which was marvelously presented.

    When you said “My backyard is a sanctuary for nature’s chimes, whistles and bells.” I truly get the sense of that by how so many animals of various kinds come over by the property haha

    I chuckled when you said :
    “I was reluctant to fetch my camera. With that feeling the bird flew away and I closed the door.”
    🤣🤣🤣

    That is very true, they can be gone in the blink of an eye even when you are just going to grab a camera my darling 📸🎞😂😂. I love the photos you shared of the Kingfisher and it was very caring of you to help the bird fly out of the area 💕😘😘

    • Oh my goodness what a wonderful read. I love every thought and appreciation you place here my Shoshin 😘 also the skip a heart beat thought of a best- seller you gifted me…lol…made my eyes flutter and my hair to bob. Thx.
      Yes somehow the little animals like to gather here. 😊🤗

      I’m telling you if the camera isn’t at hand, you can just forget it. 😂, in two ticks of a duckstail they are gone. Birdwatching is a real sport. People actually go out there to catch the first tweet 😂of the morning.🤗
      Thank you, there was no way I was going to leave him there. I’m so happy that he flapped his wings and flew off, so happy 😊 😃 😘

      • [YOU]: Oh my goodness what a wonderful read. I love every thought and appreciation you place here my Shoshin 😘 also the skip a heart beat thought of a best- seller you gifted me…lol…made my eyes flutter and my hair to bob. Thx.
        Yes somehow the little animals like to gather here. 😊🤗

        [ME]: It was an absolutely wonderful read my friend 🙏🤩🤩💙💞. And it is truly an honor to see your happiness and appreciation of my comments concerning what a terrific job you did in your beautiful writing. I have always wanted to comment but sometimes I don’t get a chance to do so but I atleast love to read them, but when I saw the cute pictures of the bird adn the interesting sequence of events, I would be restrained any longer 🤣🤣🤣

        [YOU]: I’m telling you if the camera isn’t at hand, you can just forget it. 😂, in two ticks of a duckstail they are gone. Birdwatching is a real sport. People actually go out there to catch the first tweet 😂of the morning.🤗

        [ME]: Very much so lol. All animals are busy bugs hahaha. They can be extremely difficult to take a picture of like a UFO and, in many cases, there is no guarantee that they will be seen again or ever been seen for a long to me to come, not to mention some of the priceless situations that they end up in that don’t happen too often and I love your classic comparison of birdwatching to a sport 👌👌😂😂. That is so true my friend hahaa

        [YOU]: Thank you, there was no way I was going to leave him there. I’m so happy that he flapped his wings and flew off, so happy 😊 😃 😘

        [ME]: Yes I understand, you have a loving heart and in this situation, I am glad that there was something you could do that helped him out 🐦🐥✌️😆💙

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