Maya Angelou was an accomplished poet, essayist, and a beacon for the civil rights movement. She changed our nation through her dedication to literature, her family, and loved ones. With today being her 90th birthday, I encourage everyone to read some of her poems. I have included 9 pieces from different poems below with different themes.


“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.” – from her poem, "Still I Rise"

Angelou shows her resilience to society, showing that she will never be a piece in their game of life.

Each of her beautifully crafted phrases continues to inspire me to write each day.

Straying from modern technology

“Televised news turns a half-used day into a waste of desolation.” – from her poem, "Televised"

Angelou continues her resilient narrative to push people to put down their phones, turn off their televisions, and appreciate the world that we are blessed to live in.


“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing...” – from the poem, "Caged Bird"

Angelou depicts an oppressed bird held by the metal of a cage. It is too scared to sing, yet it is forced to. This shows the morality of birds, and pets that we keep in our houses.

Female empowerment

“It's in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care, 'cause I'm a woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me.” – from her poem, "Phenomenal Woman"

Maya Angelou is nothing without her advocacy for Female Empowerment and more specifically black female empowerment.

She always knew how to write in such a way that would appease all her readers.

The importance of others

“I came up with one thing and I don't believe I'm wrong, that nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.” – from her poem, "Alone"

Throughout this poem, Maya Angelou shows the importance of a sense of belonging. We must rely and depend on others cooperatively, to truly make it in life.


“Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies, old memories of pleasure, ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.” – from her poem, "Touched by an Angel"

We know through reading this poem that Maya Angelou herself has touched us all on the shoulder in angelic form. She conveys the importance of love, and how, despite the pain and bad times we must go through, they are an inevitable part of love.


“When I was young, I used to watch behind the curtains as men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men. Young men sharp as mustard.” – from her poem, "Men"

Maya Angelou never ceases to poke a hole of humor in a serious topic like this.

Despite her fears of men from a young age, she approached this topic with her head held high and conveys that men are indeed as “sharp as mustard.”


“When I think about myself, I almost laugh myself to death, my life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked, a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.” – from her poem, "When I Think About Myself"

Maya Angelou is so modest when it comes to herself, and how she is, and with her comical vigor, she manages to eloquently convey how silly she believes her life is.


“The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand upon me, but do not hide your face.” – from her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning"

Angelou provides readers an interesting anecdotal message about how to present yourself in the face of circumstance and fear. You can’t hide from who you are.

These are only a few of the inspiring messages from her many poems and novels, so I hope that you take time and read more about her today.