Saturday, May 01, 2010

Maya Angelou in Maine

When it looks like the sun wasn't gonna shine anymore,

God, put a rainbow, in the clouds.

This is how poet Maya Angelou began her talk the other night at the University of Maine at Augusta.

I choose to call Ms. Angelou - poet - because, though she has done many things, and has served in many capacities, the role of poet, I believe, is most fitting, and most descriptive.

You can read all about the evening, its purpose, and who was there in the press reports on the local TV station's website or even view a clip of some of the evening's activities on the Kennebec Journal's website, but I wanted to bring you Ms. Angelou's words. So, I transcribed some of them for you here. Feel free to share and comment:

That statement, from a 19th Century slave song, was inspired by a statement in Genesis. In Genesis we are told that rain persisted so unrelentingly that people thought it would never cease. And in an attempt to put the people at ease, God put a rainbow in the sky. That's in Genesis. In the 19th Century, some African-American poet, lyricist - probably a woman, I'm not sure on that - said God put the rainbow, not just in the sky, but in the clouds themselves.

We know the suns, the moons, and stars, novae, and comets, are always in the firmament. But clouds are so lower and loud that we cannot see the promise of light. But if the rainbow is put into the clouds themselves, that means that the worst of times, there's a possibility of seeing hope. I am here because I wanted to come here. I wanted to come to the University of Maine at Augusta, particularly, because I think of your university, your institution of higher education as a rainbow in the clouds.

I had every reason to apologize and not come. This day, these days, I'm feeling the loneliness of the absence of a great woman whose been a mother to me and, uh, my heart is very heavy. But because she has been a rainbow in my clouds, and I would be speaking at her going home services at the National Cathedral on Thursday, I said I must come here, because I know that there are re-entry students who come here. People, women and men, who come here, who may have not had the energy, or insight, or the smartness, or the money to continue years ago. They come back, and they reenter at the University of Maine at Augusta. I said, I must come. I want, I have so much to say to you, and I'm just starting. Really, really.
Image from Kennebec Journal - Andy Malloy

1 comment:

Eugene B. Bergmann said...

Hey, J.E.B.,
This is the first place I could find on your pages to leave you a comment.

Good to know that you're a Shep fan. Did I contact you before? I'm the author of the only book on Shep= EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD (published by Applause Books, March, 2005). It's almost 500 pages with illustrations, endnotes, index, etc. I'm working on finding a publisher for my new Shep manuscript just completed.

Also, another big Shep fan/blogger, who designs blogs/webpages, has promised to design a Shepherd blog for me. I await his word.

Did you know that Shep's Maine place was not far from Agusta--on Snow Pond Lake (aka some other name on maps--a bit northwest of Agusta).

(Eugene B. Bergmann)