Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, actress, and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, wrote many beautiful and thought-provoking poems. One such poem is “Touched by an Angel.” In this poem, Angelou describes how people are before they fall in love, the ups and downs of love, and how love changes us. She died in 2014.
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BY AN ANGEL BY MAYA ANGELOU
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.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Analysis of Angelou’s “Touched by an Angel”
Maya Angelou was a prominent writer and figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. Her poem, “Touched by an Angel” is about how people are before they fall in love, the ups and downs of love, and how love changes us.
“Touched by an Angel” consists of three stanzas. It is a simple poem that expresses profound thoughts about love. In the first stanza, Angelou shows that without love, we will be secluded, but love sets us free from our loneliness and opens us up to life. She uses the imagery of “coiled in shells of loneliness” to depict isolation. In the second stanza, Angelou conveys that love comes with happiness and pain, but if we are open to it, love will take away the fear inside of us. She uses imagery in the words, “chains of fear” to show that love has the ability to make a person fearless.
In the third stanza, Angelou addresses how slowly and gradually people are detached from their fears because they are caught up in love. Then they realize that love takes up their whole being, but it also liberates them. Imagery is again used here in the words, “flush of love’s light” to show the happiness that love gives. She says that when we open ourselves to love, we will experience freedom from all things that have been an obstacle in the way of a beautiful life.
The overall theme of the poem is that love is powerful and when people let themselves be fully open to love, it can enable them to lose all their fears and become unafraid. Love is all we have as it consumes us and genuinely frees us at the same time.