Maya Angelou Famous Poems | Maya Angelou Poems List

Maya Angelou's Short Poems

About Author - Maya Angelou

Poet, dancer, singer, activist, and educator Maya Angelou was a well-known author. She was better known for her innovative autobiographical writing style.

Marguerite Ann Johnson, popularly known as Maya Angelou, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. Angelou was raised by her great-grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, due to her parents' turbulent marriage and resulting divorce. Bailey, Angelou's older brother, chose to give her the nickname "Maya."

Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014. In her honor, memorial services were held at Wake Forest University and Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. In 2015, the US Postal Service approved a stamp carrying her likeness to memorialise her legacy.

Maya Angelou Famous Poems

Maya Angelou Poems - Still I Rise

You may write me down in
history with your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'Il rise

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?

Cause l walk like l've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still l'l rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?
shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard?

Cause l laugh like lve got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, i'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like l've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame, I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain, I rise

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise

Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear, I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

l am the dream and the hope of
the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
- Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou Poems - A Brave and Startling Truth

- Which she wrote in commemoration of the UN's
50th Anniversary, in 1995.

A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who,
without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing,
irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
- Maya Angelou

Caged Bird Poem by Maya Angelou Poems

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom. 
- Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou Poems - When Great Trees Falls

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down in tall grasses,
and even elephants lumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines,
gnaws on kind words unsaid,
promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, 
bound to them, 
takes leave of us.

Our souls,
dependent upon their nurture,
now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, 
formed and informed by their radiance,
fall away.

We are not as reduced to 
the unutterable ignorance of dark, 
cold caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period of peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly. 

Spaces fill with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, 
never to be the same, 
whisper to us.
They existed. 
They existed.
We can be. 
Be and be better. 
For they existed.
- Maya Angelou

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