Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

A Brave And Startling Truth

Poem by Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.


Comments about A Brave And Startling Truth by Maya Angelou

  • Savannah (5/13/2020 5:07:00 PM)

    what is she trying to teach us in this poem?(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Andrea Lea (3/26/2020 5:50:00 PM)

    The poet laureate of my generation. I cherish my memories of Maya - both personally and via another.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Andie Anderson (1/31/2020 2:01:00 AM)

    One of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. We miss you Maya.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Aniruddha PathakAniruddha Pathak (6/19/2019 11:49:00 PM)

    When we come to...
    the brave and startling truth...
    indeed a marvelous piece.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (6/19/2019 12:17:00 AM)

    One of the best poems by Maya Angelou....................(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Ratnakar Mandlik (6/18/2019 10:24:00 PM)

    " Childhood dreams are not kicked awake
    By nightmares of abuse"
    A very forceful poem narrating the plight of the oppressed and presenting a situation when such things would come to standstill. Well deserved modern poem of the Day.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Douglas Scotney (6/18/2019 10:23:00 PM)

    perhaps we are devils and divines(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Benjamin Uy (6/18/2019 3:21:00 PM)

    We are true wonders and miraculous,
    Inspiring and magnificent poem by maya Angelou,(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (6/18/2019 11:33:00 AM)

    Nor the Gardens of Babylon! ! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (6/18/2019 10:35:00 AM)

    Marvelous, wonderful and mind blowing. A masterpiece from a great poetess. Loved it.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (6/18/2019 10:18:00 AM)

    A marvelous poem of dreams and aspirations.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (6/18/2019 7:18:00 AM)

    When we come to it
    We must confess that we are the possible
    We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
    That is when, and only when
    We come to it.......so touching and true. A beautiful poem is amazingly shared.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (6/18/2019 3:18:00 AM)

    When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
    And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
    When battlefields and coliseum
    No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
    Up with the bruised and grass.. great poem. tony(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Adeeb AlfatehAdeeb Alfateh (6/18/2019 1:31:00 AM)

    When we come to it
    When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
    And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
    When battlefields and coliseum
    No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
    Up with the bruised and grass
    To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

    great poem
    great 10+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • A. Person (2/2/2019 4:12:00 PM)

    This poem is so beautiful. Thank you for creating this.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • peter conti (12/15/2018 4:49:00 PM)

    peace is piece of the divine, the whole of it is founded in justice, we circle the cosmic church in space and wonder.
    it is not the where we are from or where we are going, only to embrace the journey together in love and peace, this is the work of Christmas(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • James Shake III (9/11/2018 5:35:00 AM)

    a phenomenal woman(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Amazing Rita (8/24/2018 2:55:00 PM)

    I love her poems(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Diane Garay (6/29/2018 4:57:00 AM)

    Just beautiful.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Faith Malonr (6/14/2018 6:04:00 PM)

    Excellent(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
Read all 59 comments »




What do you think this poem is about?



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 23, 2012

Poem Edited: Monday, June 4, 2012


[Report Error]