On the Pulse of Morning

Yesterday, I watched the video of the late Dr. Maya Angelou’s performance of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration ceremony of President Bill Clinton for the first time. I’ve always loved listening to Dr. Angelou speak, especially in interviews, when her opinions would come across more candidly and immediately than in her poetry. But I find her poetry, like all poetry, to be challenging to listen to. Without the text in front of me, I feel stranded, blind to the flow of the sentences, the purpose of the diction, the placement of the words on the page. I felt the same way while I listened to this poem. Although I could sense the beauty and wisdom in what she said, I could hardly follow the flow the story that Dr. Angelou told. I can’t really identify what her Rock, River, and Tree referred to, but I know that they were important. Most of all, I appreciated Dr. Angelou’s mentioning of the various minority communities whose oppressions and triumphs constitute the complex history of this country. It sounded as though she were ushering in a president whom she expected to champion minority rights and social justice. Because of my age, these are expectations that I generally associate with Barack Obama. I had to remind myself that she was actually welcoming the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Post submitted by Jacob.

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