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Maya Angelou Poems - WothQuotes

Poems by Maya Angelou 

Maya Angelou Poems

When You Come
By Maya Angelou

When you come to me, unbidden,
Beckoning me
To long-ago rooms,
Where memories lie.

Offering me, as to a child, an attic,
Gatherings of days too few.
Baubles of stolen kisses. 
Trinkets of borrowed loves.
Trunks of secret words,


Phenomenal Woman 
By Maya Angelou

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.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman 
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or 
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees. 
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman 
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered 
What they see in me.
They try so much 
But they can't touch
My inner mystery. 
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand 
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud,
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care.
'Cause I'm a woman 
Phenomenal woman, 
That's me.

By Maya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty 
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing 
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody, 
But nobody 
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody 
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run around like banshees 
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody 
No, nobody 
Can make it out here alone. 

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody 
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely 
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering 
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody, 
But nobody 
Can make it out here alone. 

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody 
Can make it out here alone.

Caged Bird
By Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream 
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky

But a bird that stalks 
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through 
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings 
with fearful trill
of the things unknown 
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

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.

Maya Angelou Poems

Passing Time
By Maya Angelou

Your skin like dawn
Mine like dusk

One paints the beginning 
of a certain end.

The other, the end of a
sure beginning.

When Great Trees Fall
By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants 
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forest,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile. 
We breathe, briefly. 
Our eyes, briefly,
see with 
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened, 
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken. 

Great souls die and 
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their 
fall away. 
We are not so much maddened 
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance 
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms, 
slowly and always 
irregularly. Spaces fill 
with a kind of 
soothing electric vibration. 
Our senses, restored, never 
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed. 
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou 

You may write me down in history 
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirty
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walked like I've got oil wells 
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes of springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling downlike teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

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 back yard.

You may shoot me with your words, 
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise 
That I dance like I've got diamonds 
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, 
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

A Conceit 
By Maya Angelou

Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow 
beyond this rage of poetry.

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.

Maya Angelou Poems

The Lesson 
By Maya Angelou

I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping 
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against 
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face,
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.

When I Think About Myself 
By Maya Angelou

When I think about myself,
I almost laugh myself to death,
My life has been one great big joke, 
A dance that's walked 
A song that's spoke, 
I laugh so hard I almost choke
When I think about myself. 

Sixty years in these folk's world
The child I work for calls me girl
I say 'Yes ma'am' for working's sake
Too proud to bend
Too poor to break,
I laugh until my stomach ache,
When I think about myself. 

My folks can make me split my side,
I laughed so hard I nearly died,
The tales they tell, sound just like lying,
They grow the fruit,
But eat the rind, 
I laugh until I start to crying,
When I think about my folks.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me
By Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don't frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane 
That doesn't frighten me at all

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won't cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight 
All alone at night
Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park 
Strangers in the dark
No, they don't frighten me at all.

That new classroom where 
Boys all pull my hair
(Missy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don't frighten me at all.

Don't show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I'm afraid at all
It's only in my dreams.

I've got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn't frighten me at all
Not at all 
Not at all.

Life doesn't frighten me at all.

On Aging
By Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don't think I need your chattering. 
I'm listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don't pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I'll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won't climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don't bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling, 
Don't study and get it wrong.
'Cause tired don't mean lazy
And every goodbye ain't gone.
I'm the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind. 
But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in.

By Maya Angelou

A day
drunk with the nectar of
weaves its way between
the years
to find itself at the flophouse 
of night 
to sleep and be seen
no more.

Will I be less
dead because I wrote this
poem or you more because 
you read it
long years hence.

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