from On The Pulse of Morning

· Poems · ,

by Maya Angelou

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 spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

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

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
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.


Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a celebrated American poet, memoirist, and activist. In addition to publishing seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several poetry collections, Angelou was involved with the civil rights campaigns of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and read at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1983.

From The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1994 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc., New York, NY.

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