from On the Pulse of Morning

By Maya Angelou 1928–2014 Maya Angelou
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,   
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried 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,   
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in   
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Facedown in ignorance,
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out to us today,   
You may stand upon me,   
But do not hide your face.

[...]

Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning” (excerpt) from On the Pulse of Morning. Copyright © 1993 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House Audio Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

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Poet Maya Angelou 1928–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Holidays Independence Day

 Maya  Angelou

Biography

An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood's first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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