Maya on Monday #1: Late October

angelouMaya Angelou died in May, 2014, at the age of 86. In over half a century of creative work Angelou wrote dozens of books and plays, released multiple musical albums, and received numerous awards and honorary degrees. She was an advocate for justice and reconciliation throughout her life, and remains a source of creative and personal inspiration for countless people. In early 2015 Random House published Angelou’s The Complete Poetry (811.54 Angelou).

We’ll be honest. Here at Fourth & Sycamore we feel inadequate to the task of providing any sort of meaningful commentary on a book that compiles a lifetime’s poetic work from one of the greatest creative voices of the twentieth century. What do we possibly have to add to Angelou’s work? Angelou’s voice doesn’t need us to clarify or illuminate it in any way. Because of this, for the next four Mondays we’re going to post a poem from The Complete Poetry and simply remind our readers that the book is here and available, it’s a gift to readers everywhere, and you should avail yourselves of the opportunity to check it out and read it.

Today we’re going to start out with Late October, a poem from Angelou’s first volume of poetry, 1971’s Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie. Enjoy.

Late October

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin


The Complete Poetry can be found in the New Books Room on the second floor of the Greenville Public Library. If you need help finding it, ask a librarian. We’re here to help! As always, we can reserve the book for you if it is already checked out to another patron.


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