Just this morning my Blackberry display message was "my mission in life is not to survive but to thrive; and to do so with passion, compassion, humour and style" Maya Angelou and I agree. Only to hear about 7 hours later that she had passed on.
Just this morning my Blackberry display message was “my mission in life is not to survive but to thrive; and to do so with passion, compassion, humour and style” Maya Angelou and I agree. Only to hear about 7 hours later that she had passed on.

 

Oh dear! Maya Angelou passed on today, she was 86 years old. My heart hurts. I looked up to her. I looked up to her when I wrote poetry and strove to be authentic. I loved the way she said it as it was and with so much flair. As a woman growing up and wondering about my place in the world, and why I felt this great sense of purpose, of contribution, why I felt like I was more than my circumstances or even better than I was behaving sometimes, Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’ spoke to me. As an African woman, ‘Still I Rise’ touches a chord in me, especially as the African woman in relation to the African man often has to bow her head and lower her eyes. As someone deeply convinced that there is more to life, that there has to be more, that full expression of purpose and grace has to be attained and that every gift must be used and honed to excellence, ‘the Caged Bird Sings’ sang to me. It is in honour of Maya Angelou and her great spirit that I share 3 of her poems with you.

PHENOMENAL WOMAN

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
Phenomenally.
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
Phenomenally.
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

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Phenomenal Woman

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
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

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

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk 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 springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like 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.

 

THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
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 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.

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.

 

Adieu beautiful soul! You were absolutely phenomenal! Thank you for playing full-out, living on purpose and leaving beautiful foot prints in the sands of time, through the words you’ve left behind. I pray that you find rest in the bosom of the Almighty. Adieu.

 

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