My favourite Maya Angelou rhymes

When Maya Angelou died in May 2014, the world mourned the loss of one of its greatest poets. One small measure of comfort is the fact that she left behind a vast number of brilliant poems (plus her autobiographies), addressing racism, prejudice, love, slavery, self-worth and more. I’ve recently been reading and rereading her work, and thought I’d share some of my favourite lines from some of my favourite poems by Angelou, starting with a few words from my absolute favourite poem, Still I Rise.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
-from Still I Rise

I’m the best that ever done it
(pow pow)
      That’s my title and I won it
      (pow pow)
I ain’t lying, I’m the best
(pow pow)
      Come and put me to the test
      (pow pow)
-from Times-Square-Shoeshine-Composition

From Monday, the morning of the week,
through mid-times
noon and Sunday’s dying
light. It sits silent.
Its needle sound
does not transfix my ear
or draw my longing to
a close.

Ring. Damn you!
-from The Telephone

She splayed her foot
up to the shin
within the ocean brine.
-from Communication I

Her proud declarations
     are leaves on the wind
-from America

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
– from Phenomenal Woman

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
Till I can rest again.
-from Woman Work

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.
-from Caged Bird

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
-from Insomniac

Lift up your eyes
Upon this day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
-from On the Pulse of Morning

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