Maya Angelou and me: The caged bird still sings.

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

In my television days, I worked on a series of films called God Bless America (ITV) that asked distinguished American writers to make filmed essays about their native cities. I had hoped to make one of these programmes with the great Maya Angelou, who died yesterday, but, sadly that didn’t happen. I had written to her and expected an answer, possibly a no, from her agent but on a Sunday night I had just gone to bed with a book when the telephone rang next to the bed. I picked up the phone slightly sleepily and a voice said: “Hello, is that Mr Bell? This is Doctor Angelou.” The voice was female, richly American and the timbre was that distinct mixture of humour and dignity that was so characteristic of Maya Angelou. It was a great privilege not just to have spoken to her but to have had that long, nearly half an hour, detailed and totally unexpected telephone call out of the night air from across the Atlantic. I am still sad that our mutual schedules meant that a fascinating film was never made but I shall remember our telephone meeting with pride. She was a great human being and a powerful poet.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

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



——————————————————————————————————–
STEPHEN DEARSLEY’S SUMMER OF LOVE BY COLIN BELL
My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.

It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:

…or from Amazon:

2 Comments

  1. How lucky to have had that conversation! Thanks for sharing this story today.

  2. Yes, I am so glad I got to talk to her.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: