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(4 April 1928)

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The Detached

We die,
Welcoming Bluebeards to our darkening closets,
Stranglers to our outstretched necks,
Stranglers, who neither care nor
care to know that

We pray,
Savoring sweet the teethed lies,
Bellying the grounds before alien gods,
Gods, who neither know nor
wish to know that

We love,
Rubbing the nakednesses with gloved hands,
Inverting our mouths in tongued kisses,
Kisses that neither touch nor
care to touch if

Submitted: Saturday, June 18, 2005
Edited: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Passing Time by Maya Angelou )

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  • Diamond Johnson (3/1/2012 7:24:00 AM)

    okay, i'm feeling this [3 its great.

    11 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Spencer Anderson (2/27/2012 8:06:00 PM)

    I find this poem very interesting because it offers a portrait of the makeup of the Author's soul. She may be trying to say that she is a tortured being. I really think that the metaphor and adjective rich dialogue improves the audience's understanding of the poem immeasurably. It also enables the message of her poem to get across more easily. What is that message, you ask? Well, I believe that she is trying to represent the pain of a recent tragedy, and it is most likely the death of a loved one, this is most apparent when you are reading the last stanza of the piece. When she ends the poem with the capitalized sentences, she is doing a fantastic job of emphasizing the message she wants to get across, and provides an interesting contrast that is necessary for the poem to be interesting.

  • Judith Furedi (12/26/2011 11:29:00 AM)

    It's an okay poem. But #3?

  • Rinki Nandy (2/5/2010 3:00:00 AM)

    they are all internal i guess? i think there isn't a definition but an experience and that; s how it shapes our thinking resulting in mixed /sweet/ sour feelings, then again it's internal.

  • Debra Cowley (6/21/2009 7:54:00 AM)

    I love this meditation of concept of detachment of death and life and the hell of dying and not knowing. She is so true of prayer in God what did it do for my final day may I reach behond to find my resting place from Idols here on earth.

  • Ka-tapella Deal (12/21/2008 12:18:00 PM)

    For me, this is my favorite poem from Maya Angelou from what i have read of her so far.
    I think it can be taken many ways but for me it means that the most important feelings come from inside, and can be controlled inside.

    You can be dead inside and alive outside, so death is something we can bring upon ourselves, and internal death is much worse than external death, it could possibly be the only death. If we stretch our necks to stranglers inside, we can be our own stranglers, but for me it also means that no one can kill you but yourself, which is a comforting thought because the only death that matters is internal and people outside who try to break you down can't.
    'stranglers, who neither care nor
    care to know that...' For me this talks about the complete disregard of humanity and it's nature, who are likened to pirates and murderers trying to slowly kill us (there is an undertone of a slow process) , however they haven't got enough self-respect to realise that what their doing is pointless, for death is internal. These peolple don't think about the consequences or the reasons, they just eat away at people for themselves which says something about their state of mind. I believe it is also saying that breaking other people down and trying to cause other peoples internal deaths is a biproduct of the stranglers and bluebeards internal deaths.

    The second stanza also speaks the same thing but is saying that people talk about God and they try and hide lies, and beg for forgiveness, but hell being internal means that they need internal forgiveness and an internal peace and truth that they eventually cannot hide from themselves. Internal hell which, as maya angelou may be trying to say, is worse than the hell of the Gods, and it is more important to be real with yourself.

    This last stanza is the most uplifting in my opinion. There is no love if there is no internal love. So no one can love you if you don't love yourself; and so many people in society try and look for this external love in the wrong way-constant sex and relationships, and external love is nothing compared to internal love. I also think it has an undertone of exposing the soul eroding consequences and pointlessness of promiscuity: 'gloved hands, inverting, tongued kisses, neither touch nor care to touch if' everything has a barrier, unable to reach the inside properly, even though it tries. The 'neither care to touch' part makes me think that they aren't wanting internal love, they don't want to love themselves they just want to try and receive it from an external place which is the wrong way to love and the wrong use of relationships. The most important relationship is the one with your soul.

  • Existential Despair (7/14/2008 9:01:00 AM)

    I have a feeling, reading this poem that perharps, we hide so much of the actaual reality inside ourselves and so even beauty, is unseen.

  • kundi lal (3/31/2008 3:28:00 AM)

    why are u so internal..what bout the external world..?

  • Ruth Ngungi (11/21/2007 8:15:00 AM)

    Funny! .................................

  • Adryan Rotica (6/19/2005 6:01:00 PM)

    Maya, if this is are my inspiration and such a treasure of a human being....beautiful words mistress.

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