Why Did Maya Angelou Write On The Pulse Of Morning

In 1993, Maya Angelou wrote “On The Pulse Of Morning” to honor the life and legacy of President Bill Clinton. The poem was commissioned by President Clinton and read by Angelou at his inauguration. She wrote a powerful and moving work of prose that tackled themes of peace, harmony, and fellowship. In the poem, she speaks of the concept of “becoming” – the idea that by joining together, we can make a better world. It is a call to action to “create a new day” and to “rise up” to the challenge of unity.

Angelou’s words, often referred to as an “ode”, resonated with many people. The poem was a beacon of hope for a nation that, at the time, was divided by race and class. During the period leading to and following Clinton’s election, there were debates, marches, and rallies that addressed issues of civil rights, gender equality, and the division of wealth. Angelou’s work spoke to these issues and helped to inspire the nation to come together.

Angelou also had a deep understanding of the struggles of the African-American community in the U.S. A renowned writer, poet, and civil rights activist, she had a strong sense of the injustices that racism and segregation had wrought on African Americans. Because of this, she was able to use her words to effect social change. Her poem was an assertion of the African-American community’s resilience and triumph over an oppressive justice system.

Angelou skillfully uses metaphors and imagery to support her message of peace and harmony in “On The Pulse Of Morning”. She speaks of a dawn that is new and full of potential, of birds crying out with “insistent tongues”, of chiming bells calling out to “the shape of the unformed day”. The poem is brimming with symbolism, imbuing it with both beauty and urgency.

In conclusion, Maya Angelou wrote “On The Pulse of Morning” in order to honor the life and legacy of President Bill Clinton, inspire a divided nation, and champion the rights of the African American community. With her vivid imagery, powerful metaphors and moving words, she crafted a lasting poem of peace and hope for the future.

Social Movement

Angelou’s poem reflected an understanding of the social movements of the time. She was acutely aware of the struggles of the African American community, and her words were a rallying cry against the highest forms of injustice. Her words spoke of the potential to “breathe a restorative breeze”, a call to the nation to take up their banner again and rise up. Angelou spoke of love, humanity, and the possibility of a new beginning – one in which the African American community could enjoy the same rights, respect, and opportunities as those of other racial and economic backgrounds.

Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning” was an integral part of a period of social reform. In her work, she articulated a vision of a nation that would no longer be divided by race or privilege. Her poem was a call to action, a reminder of the power of people to come together and create change. As President Clinton stated in his introduction of Angelou’s poem, “The promise of this challenging moment is that by joining hands we shall create a better world.”

Angelou was able to tap into the collective consciousness of the time, and her words resonated with many people. Her poem was a rallying cry for those who believed in a unified vision of peace, justice, and equality. In a period of political and societal turmoil, Angelou’s words provided a ray of hope and a reminder of the potential for “coming together” and creating something new.

Through her work, Angelou was helping to shape the narrative of a nation in transition. She inspired people to look beyond their differences and strive for unity and equality. Her “On the Pulse of Morning” helped to galvanize the different movements of the time, which ultimately led to a lasting change in the way Americans think about race, justice, and human rights.

Rhetorical Devices

Angelou’s words were powerful – no doubt part of the reason why her poem was so successful. She was an experienced and skilled writer, and her use of language was an integral part of her message. Angelou’s work was full of rhetorical devices, such as metaphors, imagery, and repetition.

In “On the Pulse of Morning”, Angelou’s metaphors are particularly powerful. She speaks of a dawn that is “bright and new”, a metaphor for a fresh start and rebirth. She speaks of “budding”, an analogy for renewal and growth. She also speaks of a “sparkling sea”, a metaphor for unity and solidarity. Through her use of metaphor, Angelou was able to paint a vivid picture of the possibilities if people were to join together as one.

Angelou was also adept at constructing scenes and descriptions through her words. She uses vivid imagery to evoke a sense of hope and possibility. She speaks of birds crying out with “insistent tongues”, of a “river of silent tears”, and of bells overflowing with “jubilance”. She uses imagery to bring her message to life, helping to reach and move people in a deeply emotive way.

Finally, Angelou uses repetition to great effect in her poem. She often repeats key words, phrases, and entire lines. She uses this repetition as a way to emphasize her message, and to help drive it home. She often uses the repeated phrase “to be kind” as a call to action, emphasizing the importance of kindness and understanding in creating a better world.


In writing “On the Pulse of Morning”, Angelou was inspired by her own life experiences. She had endured tremendous hardship over her lifetime – poverty, racism, and prejudice. These experiences informed her views and motivated her to use her words for change.

Angelou also drew from a deeper source of inspiration. In her poem, she speaks of a source of “truth and love”, something she saw as a kind of spiritual power that would guide the nation towards justice and peace. She believed that if the nation were to join together, the spirit of truth and love would lead them to a better future.

Angelou was able to use her writing as a tool for positive change and social reform. She used her words to convey a message of hope and healing, one that was driven by compassion and understanding. With her words, Angelou was able to help inspire a nation to come together, invest in one another, and set aside differences to create a brighter future.


Angelou’s poem is structured in an unusual and effective way. The poem is a collection of four distinct stanzas, each with its own set of themes and ideas. The first stanza speaks of “becoming” and “creating a new day”, emphasizing the importance of unity in creating a better world. The second stanza speaks of civil rights and injustice, as well as the African American community’s resilience. The third stanza is full of vivid imagery and metaphors, exploring the idea of a new dawn. The fourth and final stanza reiterates Angelou’s message of peace and hope.

The poem’s structure reflects the themes of the poem itself. By using repetition and by alternating between stanzas of hopefulness and despair, Angelou conveys a sense of movement and progress. The structure also conveys a sense of urgency, as the poem progresses from stanza to stanza, from the despair of the present towards the hope of the future.

The poem is full of powerful and emotive language, and is an effective example of how language can be used to convey a message and move people. Angelou’s “On The Pulse of Morning” is a testament to the power of words, and has had a lasting impact on the nation and the world.


Angelou’s work is imbued with her own distinct style. It is clear that Angelou had a firm grasp of the English language and was able to use it to great effect. Her words are simple and straightforward, but have an almost artistic quality to them. Angelou combined poetry, prose, and vivid imagery in her work, crafting a highly emotive piece that was sure to resonate with her audience.

The poem is written in the present tense, a choice that adds to the sense of immediacy and urgency conveyed by Angelou’s words. This also helps to emphasize the idea of “becoming”, as if the reader is being led into the future with each new line.

The poem also reflects Angelou’s use of rhythm and rhyme. The words flow effortlessly, creating an almost musical quality to the work. The rhyme and meter help to give the poem a distinct tone and power.

Finally, Angelou’s style reflects her personal outlook and convictions. Her words express a deep empathy for those who are in need, and her words convey a desperate hope for change. Her language is hopeful, yet also tempered with a deep love for humanity and for the potential for bringing about positive change.


Perhaps Angelou’s greatest legacy was her message of hope and unity, embodied in her powerful words. Her poem was a reminder that people of different backgrounds and beliefs can come together and create something better and stronger.

Angelou’s work also left a lasting impact on the way many people view civil rights and racism. By speaking of the suffering of the African American community and giving a voice to their struggles and triumphs, Angelou was able to convey a powerful message – that justice and equality are possible if people are willing to stand up and fight for it.

In conclusion, Maya Angelou’s “On The Pulse of Morning” was an inspiring work of literature that spoke to a divided nation and championed the civil rights of African-Americans. Angelou’s words have resonated with many people and have helped to inspire a spirit of hope, justice, and unity. Her words have had a lasting impact on the world, and continue to speak to the potential for change that lies in each of us.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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