A Poem for Sunday: "On the Pulse of the Morning" by Maya Angelou

With the passing of Maya Angelou earlier this week, it only seems right that today's poem be from this amazing writer.  On the Pulse of the Morning is one of my favorites by her.  I hope you come to love and enjoy it as much as I do. Copyright: doraclub / 123RF Stock PhotoPhoto Credit: doraclub / 123RF Stock Photo

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm 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 more 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 spilling 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 the 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.

A Poem for Memorial Day: "Soldier, Maiden, and Flower" by Eugene Field

With Memorial Day tomorrow, I thought this poem by Eugene Field was well suited to the moment. Copyright: es75 / 123RF Stock Photo

Photo credit: es75 / 123RF Stock Photo

"Sweetheart, take this," a soldier said,
"And bid me brave good-by;
It may befall we ne'er shall wed,
But love can never die.
Be steadfast in thy troth to me,
And then, whate'er my lot,
'My soul to God, my heart to thee,'--
Sweetheart, forget me not!"

The maiden took the tiny flower
And nursed it with her tears:
Lo! he who left her in that hour
Came not in after years.
Unto a hero's death he rode
'Mid shower of fire and shot;
But in the maiden's heart abode
The flower, forget-me-not.

And when he came not with the rest
From out the years of blood,
Closely unto her widowed breast
She pressed a faded bud;
Oh, there is love and there is pain,
And there is peace, God wot,--
And these dear three do live again
In sweet forget-me-not.

'T is to an unmarked grave to-day
That I should love to go,--
Whether he wore the blue or gray,
What need that we should know?
"He loved a woman," let us say,
And on that sacred spot,
To woman's love, that lives for aye,
We'll strew forget-me-not.

A Memorial Poem for Sunday: "Not to Keep" by Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came Saying… And she could have him. And before She could be sure there was no hidden ill Under the formal writing, he was in her sight, Living. They gave him back to her alive— How else? They are not known to send the dead— And not disfigured visibly. His face? His hands? She had to look, and ask, “What was it, dear?” And she had given all And still she had all—they had—they the lucky! Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won, And all the rest for them permissible ease. She had to ask, “What was it, dear?” “Enough, Yet not enough. A bullet through and through, High in the breast. Nothing but what good care And medicine and rest, and you a week, Can cure me of to go again.” The same Grim giving to do over for them both. She dared no more than ask him with her eyes How was it with him for a second trial. And with his eyes he asked her not to ask. They had given him back to her, but not to keep.