Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well by Maya Angelou

oh-pray-my-wingsFiction — print. Random House, 1975. 66 pgs. Gift.

This collection of thirty-six poems is, once again, eloquent evidence of Maya Angelou’s continuing celebration of life: Here are poems of love and memory; poems of racial confrontation; songs of the street and songs from the heart.

I really don’t know how to review poetry because poetry is one of those things I think you either “get” or you don’t. Poetry is all about interpretation.

That said, I didn’t “get” a lot of Angelou’s poems in Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well. I have no idea what she was trying to get me to understand, and that’s part of the reason why I rarely read poetry. I did tab six poems I enjoyed, though.

Passing Time:

“Your skin like dawn
Mine like dusk.

One paints the beginning
of a certain end.

The other, the end of a
sure beginning.” (pg. 11)

A Conceit:

“Give me your hand

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

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.” (pg. 23)

Elegy: (dedicated to Harriet Tubman & Fredrick Douglass)

“I lay down in my grave
and watch my children
Proud blooms
above the weeds of death.

Their petals wave
and still nobody
knows the soft black
dirt that is my winding
sheet. The worms, my friends,
yet tunnel holes in
bones and through those
apertures I see the rain.
The sunfelt warmth
now jabs
within my space and
brings me roots of my
children born.

Their seeds must fall
and press beneath
this earth,
and fine me where I
wait. My only need to
fertilize their birth.

I lay down in my grave
and watch my children
grow.” (pg. 63)



  1. Good try. Poetry is my weakness also. I have a book that is half short-stories and half poems. I finished the stories; I am having trouble reading the poems.

    I went to a workshop with a poet last week, and she recommends reading them out loud.

    I’ll try that with my book.

    Thanks for being part of 9 for ’09. I liked the excerpts that you selected, except the one with the worms.


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