Discovering Maya Angelou

Another week in which I ‘discovered’ another new author. I say discovered because Maya Angelou has been around for decades.  I knew her name, the title of her most famous work (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) and the fact she was a leading figure in the African- American freedom cause. But that was it until this week when I  read Caged Bird and found a podcast on the BBC World Service where she read some of her poetry. Her career as an actor make her a powerful performer but it’s the message itself that is even more impactful. Now my appetite has been well and truly whetted and I have to find out more about this remarkable woman.

My review of Caged Bird is here. If you want a taste of her poetry, this is the poem she read at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton (she was first woman poet to do such a reading).

On the Pulse of Morning

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.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on November 25, 2012, in Biography, Classics Club and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I had caged bird but not sure what happened to it. Never got a chance to read it. The poetry you quoted is beautiful. I guess I still need to discover her for myself too.


  2. She’s wonderful isn’t she? I read one of her poems at my best friend’s wedding and everyone loved it. I think in the States that would have been a cliched choice but here in Blighty she just isn’t as well known as she should be.


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