The Most Popular Quote From I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

A timid Black girl living in 1930s' Stamps, Arkansas, Maya Angelou didn't feel as pretty and elegant as the other little girls she saw around her — the white girls. She was plagued by this imagined inadequacy and lacked confidence. Her brother, Bailey, was her defender and friend as they grew up in the home of their paternal grandmother — Annie Henderson — whom they both called "Momma" (via Spark Notes). 

Author, poet, and activist Maya Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was published in 1969 and is the first of seven memoirs depicting Angelou's deeply moving coming of age story. We're taken on a journey through little Maya's troubling experiences with racism, abuse, and insecurity right up until, as a teenager and single mother, she finds her courage and her voice, per Britannica. It's heartening to know that the shy Maya grew into Maya Angelou who was honored greatly for her literary contributions. Angelou, who was born in St. Louis, Missouri, died when she was 86, according to Poetry Foundation

Whether you're a Maya Angelou fan or not, you're sure to have heard quotes from her celebrated debut book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" being quoted by people you know and in literary pieces around the world. There's a lot of them that resonate with readers but there is one particular quote that is more popular than the rest.   

This is one of the best quotes from Maya Angelou's first book

According to Insider, one of the most memorable quotes from Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is the quote, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

At age 8, Maya is molested and then raped by her mother Vivian's boyfriend — Mr. Freeman — after she and Bailey move in with them. Overwhelmed by a feeling of guilt because her perpetrator is brutally killed afterward, Maya stops talking to anyone save her brother. Her silence continues even when she's sent back to live with "Momma" (via Britannica), and she only resumes speaking when an encouraging Bertha Flowers influences her to enjoy the power of literature by reading poetry, per Spark Notes

In a true testament to triumphing over trial, Angelou's first book not only allowed her to find courage as a young woman, but gave her a platform to tell her story in her own words (via Biograph). 

Other memorable quotes from Maya Angelou

In an interview for Harvard Business Review, Maya Angelou shared that she's very cautious about the words she uses. "I know that my brain will remember and tell them back to me," she said. Her words have reached millions, yet the celebrated author understood the value of speaking meaningfully, according to Forbes

"Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you," is another quote from Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" that is much-loved, per Paste. It's a quote that is acutely descriptive of the brave soul that she was and the legacy she's left behind. 

Another memorable quote from the book is, "Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between" (via Women). Angelou's optimistic nature is something that's left a mark in the hearts of many. Even if you've never read anything by Maya Angelou, perhaps you can start with "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." You won't be sorry.