Tuesday, November 11, 2014
During those years in Stamps, I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare. He was my first white love.... it was Shakespeare who said, "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes." It was a state of mind with which I found myself most familiar. I pacified myself about his whiteness by saying that after all he had been dead so long it couldn't matter to anyone any more.
Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 2 (1970).
Remembering her childhood in strictly segregated, harshly racist Stamps, Arkansas, during the 1930s. Shakespeare had, of course, "been dead" for more than three centuries: since 1616. "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes" is the first line of sonnet no. 29.