It’s Labor Day Weekend, and we have yet another timely poem from Maya Angelou. My brief comments follow. Please note that periods indicate indentations in the poem.
Glory falls around us
as we sob
a dirge of
desolation on the Cross
and hatred is the ballast of
….which lies upon our necks
We have woven
….robes of silk
….and clothed our nakedness
From crawling on this
….murky planet’s floor
….we soar beyond the
….through the clouds
….and edge our way from hate
….and blind despair and
….to our brothers, and to our sisters cheer.
We grow despite the
….horror that we feed
….upon our own
Maya Angelou, poet; found in Sterling’s Poetry for Young People series, page 47.
Published in 2013 by Sterling Children’s Books, New York, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Editorial material © 2007 by Edwin Graves Wilson; Illustrations © 2007 by Jerome Lagarrigue|
On Monday, we celebrate Labor Day. Typically a holiday to celebrate the end of summer, the beginning of the school year, and all people who count as laborers. Who, of course, have Monday off unless they’re indispensable. A day for fun, relaxation, sports, the beach, the boardwalk, hiking in the mountains, and hotdogs.
In light of this, Maya Angelou’s poem may seem out of place. Yet given our history of slavery, her poem is a grim reminder of the cost slave laborers and people of color paid and still pay today. It also suggests a connection with Jesus’ death and resurrection. This connection can generate growth away from the horror of hate and despair. It can free the soul to “soar beyond the birds and through the clouds,” despite the horror “we feed upon our own tomorrow.”
Is there room for me in this poem? For you? I don’t know the answer for you. However, I believe this poem invites me to become brave. Not just in my personal homework, but in our current political context that reeks of unfinished business.
I’m grateful for your visits, especially given all that’s going on around us these days. I pray we’ll find ways this weekend to nurture our spirits and bodies with courage and strength. Plus enjoy unexpected moments with friends, neighbors and strangers. And grow just a bit closer to the persons we were meant to be.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 September 2020
Book Cover image found at amazon.com