Jan 06 2014

Maya Angelou – On the Pulse of the Morning

Published by at 9:29 am under Poetry

On the Pulse of Morning
by Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark 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,
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
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.

The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The river sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.

Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.

Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.

I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours–your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

— from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, by Maya Angelou


/ Photo by particlem /

Welcome, all of us, to the new year. May 2014 be one of blessings, new possibilities, sweet serendipities, long, leisurely moments of serenity, days of vigorous, satisfying activity. May the new year bring clarity, creativity, and renewed purpose. And even our challenges, may they strengthen us.

I thought this poem by the great Maya Angelou would be a good one with which to start off the new year.

Our history is in the earth, in rock and tree, our shared home. We stand upon our past. And that past speaks to us, calling us back to ourselves. History’s tears and terrors turn our hearts back to the peace that is every soul’s true nature. Seeing the past, acknowledging and accepting all of it, with head and heart engaged, that courageous act unblinds us. Only then are we freed to see distant horizons, and witness new dawns.

When you feel stuck, when the world feels stuck around you, take a moment to sit upon a rock, listen to a tree. They are yourself, and the selves of all who have gone before. They carry the collective wisdom of the eons.

A few of the lines that particularly stand out to me:

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness…

Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.

Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.

Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

…And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful new year for you!

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.






Maya Angelou, Maya Angelou poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Maya Angelou

US (1928 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Maya Angelou

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