Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

On The Pulse Of Morning

Poem by Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers-
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours- your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Comments about On The Pulse Of Morning by Maya Angelou

  • Reggie Harris (4/21/2020 11:43:00 AM)

    The most extraordinary offering that a presidential inaugural has ever heard. I read it with joy, frequently.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Alokananda Sengupta (3/23/2019 6:27:00 AM)

    My favourite poem. I often quote stanzas from it(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Onimisi Yusuf (5/21/2018 11:40:00 PM)

    Add a comment. Nice lines that reflect a struggle for balance among races.(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • lotus is pretty (4/9/2018 8:03:00 PM)

    i hate your poem on the pulse of morinig. i love you(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    15 person did not like.
  • Boyowa Daniel (11/12/2017 11:51:00 AM)

    nice one(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Resh Kav (6/24/2017 7:52:00 PM)

    Amazing poem. love to read again & again(Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (12/30/2015 1:13:00 PM)

    There are so many verses in this piece that speak to the heart of mankind and they speak in many voices but one thing they have in common is that they speak in earnest and out of the honesty of a strong soul(Report)Reply

    48 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Maria Gonzalez (7/20/2015 3:36:00 PM)

    Beautifully done Maya. As usual...(Report)Reply

    18 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Brian JaniBrian Jani (4/26/2014 5:31:00 PM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report)Reply

    13 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Miroslava OdalovicMiroslava Odalovic (7/9/2010 3:23:00 PM)

    Now, this is the one I really like. Ecumenism at its utmost. I hope the words can make people love one another.(Report)Reply

    14 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Debra Cowley (6/21/2009 8:15:00 AM)

    As I read I cried for you have touch the very soul of heaven a tree where we all purch and gather to feed. For when I wake I do see an international color of all spelender from what has not become Gods head to what he did find employable. Good morning my frist thing I try to strive to say to my creator every morning. Thank you.(Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Emily Boronkay (12/18/2007 7:51:00 PM)

    Beautiful, hopeful, lyrical! Only better when she reads it herself!(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Steve Mcdonald (4/20/2007 11:17:00 PM)

    A Rock, A Paper, A Pair of Sissors
    Mark Barney
    The dinosaur (why did we stop capitalising?)
    Here are the dry tokens of semi digested
    Laundry lists of special Interest groups
    The fewmets of fatuousness.
    It sure takes Ms Johnson a longish time to say
    GOOD MORNING.(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    16 person did not like.
  • David Starmer (5/30/2006 9:51:00 PM)

    This is actually entitled 'On The Pulse of Morning' and was read at the first inaugural of President Clinton.(Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Jennifer J. Abernathey (11/22/2005 2:21:00 AM)

    Beautiful. I forget about the joy set before us most of the time anymore. Maybe you've seen it. I'd like to again.(Report)Reply

    14 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
Read all 15 comments »

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Read poems about / on: river, tree, today, courage, teacher, history, destiny, dream, sister, brother, birth, women, change, war, beautiful, children, peace, song, fear, hope

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Saturday, May 2, 2015