A Poem for a Thursday #55

Photo by Liam Charmer on Unsplash

I am not sure there is anything Maya Angelou didn't do. She was a poet, singer, and civil rights activist. She wrote for plays, movies, and television. Angelou received many awards and more than fifty honorary degrees. She recited one of her poems at the first inauguration of Bill Clinton. It is possible that she is best known for her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her books "center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel." Many viewed her poetry as most interesting when she recited it herself. Simply reading it gives a good feel for her distinctive voice but if you want to hear her for yourself YouTube has many videos of her.

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 forests,
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
radiance, 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. 

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

Brona has shared a poem this week. You can read it here.


  1. That's a good one, and as always, you've found a wonderful picture to go with it.

  2. Shamefully I've never read anything by her, I really should remedy that.

    1. I haven't read much by her either but I liked this.