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Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

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 daughters
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 dagger
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.

Submitted: Monday, January 23, 2012
Edited: Monday, June 04, 2012

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Comments about this poem (A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou )

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  • Gold Star - 12,527 Points Deepak Kumar Pattanayak (5/31/2014 4:02:00 AM)

    We are the possible.......Maya Angelou........but you are the Angel and the truth of this beautiful world.........indebted
    to God that an Angel like you has been sent to us........ (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 12,527 Points Deepak Kumar Pattanayak (5/31/2014 4:00:00 AM)

    We are the possible.......Maya Angelou........but you are the Angel and the truth of this beautiful world.........indebted
    to God that an Angel like you has been sent to us........ (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,566 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (5/15/2014 4:09:00 AM)

    A climate where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety....wonderful imagination and deep commitment to the world we live in. Such an expectation of a world order is wonderfully made the poem which very imaginative and up to the truth and positive intuitions. The poem is deeply committed to humanity, equality, peace and friendship. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,566 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/6/2014 2:18:00 AM)

    Not only this a poem but also an inspirational song to the depressed, injured and suppressed it is felt and having a relevance for the theme adopted for real awakening those who suffer. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie iain Robb (3/16/2014 6:45:00 AM)

    I actually arrived here at this poem in order to complain about Angelou's poetry, which is generally quite bad, but unfortunately here I'm not able to, because this is actually a pretty good poem. I have to admit that Angelou, unlike Benjamin Zephaniah, does not build her career through reverse racist generalisations against white people, so I'm not afraid to give this, a rare decent poem of hers, a generous thumbs-up. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jema Lou (11/22/2013 11:29:00 AM)

    This poem is right.It clearly shows the truth in life, i think it covers all the aspects in life. Good in Bad. She wrote this with creativity. I voted for this poem. I liked it. it's like showing the wonders of the World. koodos to you Maya Angelou for writing this amazing poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 1 Points Kelly Kelley (11/17/2013 4:29:00 PM)

    This poem leaved me breathless, speechless, and seeing that those who seem to love us, hates us when reality has to be told and seen. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 2,225 Points Patricia Grantham (6/17/2013 7:29:00 AM)

    This poem is full of creativity. I like it because it
    does not cover up the things in life that are not so
    pretty. It brings to light all of the dregs of humanity
    in an honest manner. The truth shall set us free.
    A good write Maya! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ciarli Ling (2/3/2013 10:11:00 AM)

    Angelou talks like a slave, but is only a black woman. She seems to say go and play in Africa for free your war-games but she never really said that. Maya Angelou as a master Poetess but take care from holy Poets of level 99 and cracked and blessed in heaven, they are really lethal. (Report) Reply

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