Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Slate: Maya Angelou on What Happens When Great Souls Die
  Excerpt from Slate report by Katy Waldman ....
Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images - from Slate

The stanza below comes from “When Great Trees Fall,” the last poem in Angelou’s fifth volume of poetry, I Shall Not Be Moved. It captures her grace and gentleness, as well as that calm stretching action she urges upon us: Fill the spaces and move beyond them. Be and be better. Angelou has filled the spaces and passed through one more limit. We’re all the better for it.
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter.

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