Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester Reflection: Maya Angelou's "When Great Trees Fall"



The whole world awoke this morning to the shattering news of the Manchester tragedy. My Mother and I were deeply saddened as we have attended concerts together in the past and they should only ever be a joyful experience, yet last night has touched the lives of so many. In times of grief, poetry can often speak to the human spirit where all else fails. This poem by Maya Angelou is dedicated to those who have died in the Manchester tragedy and their families. Rest In Peace.


When Great Trees Fall 

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants 
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall,
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words 
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and 
our reality, bound to 
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls
dependant upon their 
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

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.

Maya Angelou


*Images via Flickr


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