• pauljenkinspoet

Poem of the week - Maya Angelou

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Sometimes we need a bit of defiance.


This week we’ve seen our parliament reduced to finger pointing, name calling & plain old bullying. Force & bluster have replaced compromise and reason. We are, as a country, not at the crossroads - but on a precipice.


Neither the reminder of the online threat posed to our MP’s nor a physical reminder of a plaque dedicated to the loss of a murdered representative seemed to make a jot of difference to those currently tugging hard on the reins of power. They ploughed on through with their ‘sit down and shut up’ rhetoric.


As one MP put it. "Even my five-year-old knows that if you do something wrong you have to say sorry."


The common theme amongst all of the examples above? They are all the experiences and voices of the women in our parliament. Strong women who have shown time and time again that they will not be beaten down. Despite finding themselves in a place dominated by ever redder faced males, they have brought debate back to where we need it - the common ground - the only place where democracy can truly flourish.


And so for this week’s poem I could only really turn to another woman who proved, through her words, that no matter how bad things get - we will come again. Someone who felt the full force of ‘The will of the people’ and then helped to shape that will for a greater good.


I give you Maya Angelou.


STILL I RISE

BY MAYA ANGELOU

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod 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 backyard.


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



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