10 Best Maya Angelou Poems You Must Read

Looking for the best poems by Maya Angelou that stir your soul and inspire your mind? Wondering which of her works encapsulate the essence of her profound wisdom and eloquent prose?

In the realm of Maya Angelou’s literary legacy, her poems resonate deeply with readers worldwide. From the poignant verses of “Still I Rise” to the empowering lines of “Phenomenal Woman,” Angelou’s poetry reflects the resilience, strength, and beauty of the human spirit.

But these celebrated works are just the tip of the iceberg. Delve deeper into Angelou’s poetic repertoire to uncover hidden gems that illuminate the complexities of life, love, and identity. Join us as we explore the timeless allure of Maya Angelou’s best poems and discover the transformative power of her words.

About The Poet Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Her early life was marked by hardship and adversity, including a traumatic experience of sexual abuse at a young age, which she depicted in her groundbreaking autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969). Despite facing numerous challenges, Angelou’s resilience and determination propelled her towards success.

Maya Angelou

Angelou’s literary career blossomed in the 1950s and 1960s during the civil rights movement. Her poetry often addressed themes of identity, racism, and social injustice, resonating with audiences around the world. Some of her most notable works include “And Still I Rise” (1978), “Phenomenal Woman” (1978), and “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993), which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

Throughout her lifetime, Angelou received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to literature and activism. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama, cementing her legacy as a pioneering figure in American culture. Angelou’s enduring influence continues to inspire generations of readers and writers, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

10 Best Maya Angelou Poems

Maya Angelou’s poetry resonates with profound themes of resilience, empowerment, and the celebration of identity. Her words have the power to uplift, inspire, and provoke thought. Here are the 10 best Maya Angelou poems:

1. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

This poem serves as a powerful declaration of resilience and self-affirmation in the face of oppression and adversity. Through vivid imagery and a defiant tone, Angelou celebrates her identity as a survivor and triumphs over those who seek to diminish her. The repetition of the phrase “Still I rise” reinforces the indomitable spirit that refuses to be defeated by hardship or injustice.

Still I Rise


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.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Read Full Poem

2. Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

“Phenomenal Woman” celebrates the inherent beauty and strength of women beyond conventional standards of attractiveness. Angelou challenges societal norms by asserting the allure and confidence that emanate from within. Through the poem’s rhythmic cadence and confident assertions, Angelou celebrates the power of self-assurance and inner beauty.

Phenomenal Woman


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,   

The stride of my step,   

The curl of my lips.   

Raed Full Poem

3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In this iconic poem, Angelou contrasts the free-spiritedness of a bird in nature with the confinement and struggle of a caged bird. Through powerful imagery and metaphor, she explores themes of oppression, resilience, and the longing for freedom. The caged bird serves as a poignant symbol of those who are marginalized or oppressed, yet it also embodies the enduring spirit that seeks liberation and self-expression.

Caged Bird


A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and   

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

Read Full Poem

4. Touched By An Angel by Maya Angelou

This poem explores the transformative power of love and human connection. Angelou delves into the vulnerability and depth of emotion that arise from intimate relationships, portraying love as a force that can uplift and inspire. Through tender imagery and emotive language, she captures the profound impact of love on the human heart and soul.

Touched By An Angel 


We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Read Full Poem

5. Men by Maya Angelou

In “Men,” Angelou offers a nuanced exploration of masculinity, challenging stereotypes and societal expectations. Through a series of contrasting images and observations, she highlights the complexity and diversity of male experiences. The poem invites readers to reconsider preconceived notions about masculinity and embrace empathy and understanding in their interactions with others.



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.
See them. Men are always
Going somewhere.
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pause,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
Those behinds,

Read Full Poem

6. Alone by Maya Angelou

“Alone” delves into the experience of solitude and introspection. Angelou explores the inner landscape of the solitary individual, navigating the depths of one’s thoughts and emotions. Through evocative imagery and reflective language, she captures the solitary journey of self-discovery and the potential for growth and insight found in moments of aloneness.



Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Read Full Poem

7. A Conceit by Maya Angelou

This poem explores the intricacies of romantic love and desire. Angelou employs wit and irony to dissect the complexities of intimate relationships, portraying love as a blend of passion, vulnerability, and longing. Through clever wordplay and vivid imagery, she captures the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in the human heart’s pursuit of connection and intimacy.

A Conceit


Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow
beyond this rage of poetry.

Read Full Poem

8. Woman Work by Maya Angelou

In “Woman Work,” Angelou celebrates the often invisible labor of women. Through a series of evocative vignettes, she depicts the myriad responsibilities and burdens shouldered by women in their daily lives. The poem serves as a tribute to the resilience and strength of women, highlighting the sacrifices and contributions they make to their families and communities.

Woman Work


I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The cane to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Raed Full Poem

9. The Lesson by Maya Angelou

Through storytelling and vivid imagery, “The Lesson” offers profound insights into the human experience. Angelou explores themes of wisdom, resilience, and the transformative power of lived experience. The poem serves as a reminder of the lessons learned through life’s trials and tribulations, inviting readers to embrace the growth and wisdom that come from facing adversity.

The Lesson


I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against

Read Full Poem

10. Remembrance by Maya Angelou

“Remembrance” is a poignant meditation on memory, loss, and the enduring power of love. Angelou reflects on the bittersweet nature of remembrance, evoking emotions of longing, nostalgia, and grief. Through lyrical language and tender imagery, she honors the memory of loved ones while finding solace in the enduring bonds of affection and connection.



Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the
slope of my cheek. On the
occasion, you press
above me, glowing, spouting
readiness, mystery rapes
my reason

Read Full Poem

Some Interesting Facts About The Poet Maya Angelou And Her Poems

  • Maya Angelou’s birth name was Marguerite Annie Johnson.
  • She worked as a calypso dancer and singer in her youth.
  • Angelou’s autobiographical work, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” is widely acclaimed and taught in schools across the globe.
  • She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2010.
  • Angelou’s poetry often draws inspiration from her personal experiences, encompassing themes of resilience, identity, and social justice.

FAQs About Maya Angelou’s Poems

  • Q: What inspired Maya Angelou to write poetry?

A: Angelou’s poetry was inspired by her tumultuous life experiences, including childhood trauma, racism, and the quest for identity.

  • Q: Are Maya Angelou’s poems suitable for all ages?

A: While some of Angelou’s themes may be more suitable for mature readers, her poetry resonates with audiences of all ages.

  • Q: How can I understand the deeper meaning behind Angelou’s poems?

A: Delve into Angelou’s life story and explore the historical context surrounding her works to gain a deeper understanding of their significance.

  • Q: What sets Maya Angelou’s poetry apart from other poets?

A: Angelou’s poetry is distinguished by its raw emotion, lyrical prowess, and unwavering commitment to social justice and equality.

  • Q: Where can I find collections of Maya Angelou’s poems?

A: Maya Angelou’s poetry collections are widely available in bookstores, libraries, and online platforms.

In the tapestry of literature, Maya Angelou’s poetry shines as a beacon of hope, resilience, and profound insight.

Through her eloquent verses, she continues to inspire and uplift readers, transcending boundaries of time and space.

Explore the transformative power of Angelou’s words, and discover the enduring legacy of one of the greatest poets of our time.

Hussain M

Introducing Hussain M, the brains behind Honestreaders.com. With a passion for great authors, he's on a mission to help you navigate their works.

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