Friday, May 30, 2014

Sayonara Maya

Burns Library, Boston/ flickr

Maya Angelou died this week. Her life was filled with pain and wonder. Born into a segregated world of poverty and wrong. Her mother disappeared when she was three. She and her brother were shuffled from place to place. She was abused as a child , an unwed mother at 17. She worked as a prostitute yet she somehow overcame all the brokenness of those early years.  Before she left us she had written 36 books, was an actress, director, playwright, composer, singer and dancer. She was an inspiration to millions, especially to her own race.

 She was chosen to read a poem at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration. The next year she read her poem, "Still I Rise" at Nelson Mandela's inauguration as President of South Africa. Her words in her poems and writings expressed not only her own journey but her dream for all people everywhere. She gave all of us hope. She graced our lives because she refused to be blocked by the circumstances around her.  Indeed--she really did rise again and again.

Years ago she wrote this poem. Riffling through a book of her poems I rediscovered this poem It is called fittingly, "America" and leaves us with a vision yet to be fulfilled.

"The gold of her promise
   has never been mined

Her borders of justice
   not clearly defined

Her crops of abundance
   the fruit and the grain

Have not fed the hungry
   nor eased that deep pain

Her proud declarations
   are leaves on the wind

Her southern exposure
   black death did befriend

Discover this country
   dead centuries cry

Erect noble tablets
   where none can decry

"She kills her bright future
   and rapes for a sou

Then entraps her children
   with legends untrue"

I beg you

Discover this country.

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