Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Song for the Old Ones

Poem by Maya Angelou

My Fathers sit on benches
their flesh counts every plank
the slats leave dents of darkness
deep in their withered flanks.

They nod like broken candles
all waxed and burnt profound
they say 'It's understanding
that makes the world go round.'

There in those pleated faces
I see the auction block
the chains and slavery's coffles
the whip and lash and stock.

My Fathers speak in voices
that shred my fact and sound
they say 'It's our submission
that makes the world go round.'

They used the finest cunning
their naked wits and wiles
the lowly Uncle Tomming
and Aunt Jemima's smiles.

They've laughed to shield their crying
then shuffled through their dreams
and stepped 'n' fetched a country
to write the blues with screams.

I understand their meaning
it could and did derive
from living on the edge of death
They kept my race alive.


Comments about Song for the Old Ones by Maya Angelou

  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (4/6/2020 7:21:00 AM)

    I understand their meaning
    it could and did derive
    from living on the edge of death
    They kept my race alive. They kept my race alive. a wonderful poem. tony(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (11/16/2019 9:42:00 PM)

    from living on the edge of death
    They kept my race alive. /// the ending life of one brave hero cause of living or lives of thousands of people peacefully(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (11/16/2019 4:23:00 PM)

    A remarkabetouching poem. While nobody wants to live the life of slavery and subservience the power to endure and survive is remarkable in humans. A hope for better future survives all hardship.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Tamara Beryl LathamTamara Beryl Latham (11/16/2019 11:37:00 AM)

    Beautifully expressed rhyming poem that highlights those previous generations of people who have had an influence on her and her race. Nicely done. : -)(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (11/16/2019 11:28:00 AM)

    Seven stanzas full of life experiences, history and background information in in-depth philosophy about how their ancestors had been, a subtle reference to worse times in the earliest days of her ancestors and the existence of her father. An excellent poem by the poetess, who wrote excellent poems about how her ancestors survived and kept her race alive. CONGRATULATIONS on being chosen as the Modern Poem Of The Day. A 10(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Aniruddha PathakAniruddha Pathak (11/16/2019 8:06:00 AM)

    They used the finest cunning
    their naked wits and wiles...
    They've laughed to shield their crying
    then shuffled through their dreams...
    and then the poem ending
    ...living on the edge of death...
    lovely expressions in this 'Song for the Old Ones'.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (11/16/2019 3:01:00 AM)

    Their naked wits and wiles! ! ! !


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

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (5/12/2019 1:26:00 AM)

    There in those pleated faces
    I see the auction block
    the chains and slavery's coffles
    the whip and lash and stock. the whip and lash........ full of feelings. tony(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rhapsody (1/30/2019 11:52:00 AM)

    This is only part of the poem, and also is incorrect with verses added in some spots. Here is Angelou doing the whole poem: https: //www.youtube.com/watch? v=_HLol9InMlc(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Nadia Napolichivska (1/10/2019 4:51:00 PM)

    This is a beautiful poem the way she incorporates fear, sadness, anguish, hope and optimism all in one poem is just brilliant.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • nunyabuisness (3/13/2018 1:41:00 PM)

    So sad she hit her due date; ((Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (12/9/2017 11:52:00 PM)

    I understand their meaning
    it could and did derive
    from living on the edge of death
    They kept my race alive.

    Great work dear poet.(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Rogelio GuillermoRogelio Guillermo (10/11/2017 9:17:00 AM)

    Slavery has, indeed, left a grim mark on history and this poem's graphical portrayal of it is very real.(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Prabhata Kumar SahooPrabhata Kumar Sahoo (4/3/2017 10:55:00 AM)

    It is strong representation of a class.Good.(Report)Reply

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




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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016