Maya Angelou

On the Pulse of Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,   
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried 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 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
Facedown in ignorance,
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out to us today,   
You may stand upon me,   
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world, 
A River sings a beautiful song. It says, 
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 rock were one. 
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow 
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing. 
The River sang 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, the Native American, the Sioux, 
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek 
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik, 
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher, 
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher. 
They hear. They all hear 
The speaking of the Tree. 

They hear the first and last of every Tree 
Speak to humankind today. 
Come to me, 
Here beside the River. 
Plant yourself 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, 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 Arab, the Swede, 
The German, the Eskimo, the Scot, 
The Italian, the Hungarian, the Pole,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought, 
Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare 
Praying for a dream. 

Here, root yourselves beside me. 
I am that 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, but if faced 
With courage, need not be lived again. 

Lift up your eyes upon 
This 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 a new beginning. 
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 and 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, and into 
Your brother's face, your country 
And say simply 
Very simply 
With hope -- 
Good morning. 

spoken = Stefonia Bavin