By now you all must have heard about the passing away of Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014). Maya Angelou is one of my favorite writers & poets of all time. I remember first reading I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS & how it touched me as a young woman. I remember the beautiful inaugural poem she wrote for former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. Her poetry was uplifting & encouraging & I have all of her books on my shelf. She will be missed but lived a full life touching so many others. To remember her I wanted to share my favorite poem from her, “On the Pulse of Morning”, the inaugural poem she wrote for Bill Clinton in 1993. So much of her work was dedicated to lifting black Americans up & humanity itself. We’ve physically lost a great treasure who will remain with us through her words. My prayers go out to her son, other family, friends & colleagues. She will be greatly missed:
This is my favorite poem by Dr. Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”, written in 1993 for the inauguration of former President Bill Clinton. I’ll never forget how empowered I felt reading it as a junior in high school. Enjoy:
|A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
Your mouths spilling words
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
Across the wall of the world,
Each of you a bordered country,
Your armed struggles for profit
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
You, who gave me my first name, you
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Lift up your eyes upon
Give birth again
Women, children, men,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Do not be wedded forever
The horizon leans forward,
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
Listen to the recording of Dr. Angelou’s inaugural reading of this poem here.
– Dr. Maya Angelou, January 20th 1993