Wednesday, May 28, 2014
On The Pulse Of This New Day...
You were one of the gems from my time in Virginia.
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.
I will never forget that cold, inaugural morning. They said there hadn't been an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost spoke at John F. Kennedy's election in 1961. Did the viewers back then understand the significance of witnessing Frost in person? Did they know they would be envied by people like me?
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
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.
I read later that this presidential assignment scared you. You'd even asked many members of the audience to pray for you as you composed and recited your piece. I think their prayers were answered.
I was 16 and I was sitting on the edge of my seat.
Your words are still in my thoughts. Your hidden smile as you concluded the last line is still bright in my memory. And someday when my posterity asks what it was like to see Maya Angelou at the 1993 presidential inauguration, they'll know how much your words inspired us all.
Thank you courageous Maya. It was an honor.
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