The world has lost a giant. Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86. She will be sorely missed, but she lives on through her work, her memoirs, and her poetry, which have inspired generations.
If you've never gotten around to reading much of Maya Angelou, this is your opportunity to get on that. And if you are a long time Maya Angelou fan, now is a time to take solace in her poetry. Maya Angelou's poetry often deals with themes of hope and survival, struggle and triumph — from her famous piece, "Still I Rise," which I was first blown away by at a Take Back the Night, to "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which is also the title of her memoir.
She's also written plenty of poetry about death. In her poem, "When a Great Tree Falls" she writes "When great trees fall/rocks on distant hills shudder" and the whole world is affected. Yet when great trees fall, when great people die, after our period of mourning:
Our senses, restored, neverto be the same, whisper to us.They existed. They existed.We can be. Be and bebetter. For they existed.
Maya Angelou existed, and we are all better for it. So let us remember her through the work she left behind, and let us be better, as she tells us to be in her poem "On the Pulse of Morning," which she read at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration, a call to a new president and to all Americans.
Rest in Power, Maya Angelou. You will be missed.