Monday, May 10, 2010

Strong Women - Maya Angelou

The first time I noticed Maya Angelou is when she read her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, at President Bill Clinton's inauguration on January 20, 1993.  Since that time I have read several of her books and been struck by the fact that eventhough she had a rough early life, she was strong and rose above all the hurts and struggles.  She was a singer-dancer in New York City.  Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's history making quest.  Later, she became a professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

I definitely recommend getting to know Maya Angelou through her books and you will be touched by her strength.

One of her poems from Phenomenal Women

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.


Jakki said...

She has such a fragile yet strong beautiful pressence! I seen her speak at a university last year and was totally captivated. Her voice grabs your attention but words and her presence just totally...makes you spell bound. A very beautiful lady in every many of the word lady.

CindyW said...

When I’m feeling a need to be inspired (or at least removed from the doldrums), I've often found myself turning to Maya Angelou. Here are a few of my favorite Maya-Lines:

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And then there’s this great story about cockroaches and her visit to Africa:

Jeanne said...

I love all you share
I love you

Sheila said...

She is a wise woman. I have seen her on Oprah, and she is so normal, so smart and so down to earth. So phenominal!

LisaKnowsTea said...

That was really powerful-we should share that with our girls. I hadn't read that one. Thanks for posting

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. There is so many strong women I've yet to meet, Maya being one of them. Thank you for the intro Marilyn!!!

susanna said...

Yes, Maya Angelou is a Phenomenal Woman, isn't she? I enjoyed reading her books about her life...yes, talk about inner strength and courage!

betsy said...

How inspirational! Thank you for sharing with us!


Laurie said...

That should be the mantra of all women. I love it!

christina said...

she has always been one of my favorites.
love her.

Cathy said...

She is a phenomenal woman. Thanks for sharing this moving poem.

Steph said...

I had the good fortune to hear her in person last year at the local University. She opened by singing. She's a rather petite woman these days - and her booming and articulate voice filled the room. A moment I won't forget!

Mary Jane said...

I am fortunate to know many Phenomenal Women, among them you, Marilyn.

The quote from Maya Angelou that made a big impression on me was this:

"The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."

These words of wisdom have proven invaluable for me. Thank you Miss Angelou and thank you, Marilyn, for sharing this poem.

(Steph, how wonderful that you had the opportunity to see her in person.)

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

Wise woman. I have some of her books, including her cookbook! Did you know she is 6-ft. tall. Physically tall, and tall in spirit!