Quotes from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou ·  246 pages

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“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, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“If you're for the right thing, you do it without thinking.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Ritie, don't worry 'cause you ain't pretty. Plenty pretty women I seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.

The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic admiration.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware. And the worst part of my awareness was that I didn't know what I was aware of. I knew I knew very little, but I was certain that the things I had yet to learn wouldn't be taught to me at George Washington High School. ”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education. ”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“A story went the rounds about a San Franciscan white matron who refused to sit beside a Negro civilian on the streetcar, even after he made room for her on the seat. Her explanation was that she would not sit beside a draft dodger who was a Negro as well. She added that the least he could do was fight for his country the way her son was fighting on Iwo Jima. The story said that the man pulled his body away from the window to show an armless sleeve. He said quietly and with great dignity, "Then ask your son to look around for my arm, which I left over there.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Women been gittin' pregnant ever since Eve ate that apple.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“When things were very bad his soul just crawled behind his heart and curled up and went to sleep”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“People whose history and future were threatened each day by extinction considered that it was only by divine intervention that they were able to live at all. I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at a commensurate speed.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“I had given up some youth for knowledge, but my gain was more valuable than the loss”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“He was a simple man who had no inferiority complex about his lack of education, and even more amazing no superiority complex because he had succeeded despite that lack.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“The intensity with which young people live demands that they "blank out" as often as possible.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“The needs of a society determine its ethics, and in the Black American ghettos the hero is that man who is offered only the crumbs from his country's table but by ingenuity and courage is able to take for himself a Lucullan feast. Hence the janitor who lives in one room but sports a robin's-egg-blue Cadillac is not laughed at but admired, and the domestic who buys forty-dollar shoes is not criticized but is appreciated. We know that they have put to use their full mental and physical powers. Each single gain feeds into the gains of the body collective.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


“Until recently each generation found it more expedient to plead guilty to the charge of being young and ignorant, easier to take the punishment meted out by the older generation (which had itself confessed to the same crime short years before). The command to grow up at once was more bearable than the faceless horror of wavering purpose, which was youth.”
― Maya Angelou, quote from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


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About the author

Maya Angelou
Born place: in St. Louis, Missouri, The United States
Born date April 4, 1928
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