Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Poet: Maya Angelou, "A Brave And Startling Truth"

"A Brave And Startling Truth"
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."

No comments:

Post a Comment