Maya Angelou

My (perceived) job doing this blog is not to reiterate the most famous poems an author has, which is why I’m not talking about “Still I Rise” or “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” as great as those poems are. Instead, how about “Preacher, Don’t Send Me“:

(And here is Jammie Jones reading it)

The big theme of this poem is that heaven is hopefully not like earth. It makes sense, from one point of view, as Angelou had a difficult life; and, anyway, what is the

Preacher, don’t send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky
where rats eat cats
of the leopard type
and Sunday brunch
is grits and tripe.

I’ve known those rats
I’ve seen them kill
and grits I’ve had
would make a hill,
or maybe a mountain,
so what I need
from you on Sunday
is a different creed.

Preacher, please don’t
promise me
streets of gold
and milk for free.
I stopped all milk
at four years old
and once I’m dead
I won’t need gold.

I’d call a place
pure paradise
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.

Life can be difficult, and it doesn’t seem fantastic to do the same things in heaven that we do on earth (or vie for the same things). Instead, her paradise looks much like a perfect world, where there is no strife, good music, and nice weather. Sounds good to me.


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