Poetry - Empowerment and motivation
Maya Angelou (1928-2014), Still I Rise
The American poet (pictured right) describes the will to win and overcome
difficulty and prejudice (particularly as she is an African American):
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Angelou, Caged Bird (1994)
In this poem Angelou also praises freedom for the oppressed who are like a “caged bird”:
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
This is reminiscent of Paul
McCartney's (pictured right) Beatles 1967 song, Blackbird.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free.
(first two verses)
James Russell Lowell (1819-91), Stanzas on Freedom (1843)
The American poet (pictured right) indicates the importance of freedom to empowerment:
True freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!
Emma Lazarus (1849-87), The New
The American poet's (pictured right) words of freedom are written on a plaque inside the Statue of
Liberty in New York:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”, cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Marianne Moore (1887-1972), I may, I might, I must
The American poet (pictured right) emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude.
In response to someone saying that a fen is “impassable”, she writes:
... I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.
Gwyneth Lewis (1959- ), One person can make a difference
The Welsh poet (pictured right) wrote this poem for Holocaust Memorial Day 2006.
The fight for justice starts and ends with me.
Truth is the sound of what I may say.
I can only be well when others are free
And right has a price I'm prepared to pay.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919),
The American poet (pictured right) says have the will (or resolve) to seize life's
opportunities without regret.
Build on resolve, and not upon regret,
The structure of thy future. Do not grope
Among the shadows of old sins, but let
Thine own soul's light shine on the path of hope
And dissipate the darkness. Waste no tears
Upon the blotted record of lost years,
But turn the leaf, and smile, oh, smile, to see
The fair white pages that remain for thee.
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), The Dry Salvages (1941)
The American-born British poet (pictured right) emphasizes the importance of trying to succeed:
Right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying