“Continue” by Maya Angelou

Last week, a number of my friends on social media shared Maya Angelou’s poem “Continue” to mark the start of a new year. Originally written as a birthday gift for Oprah Winfrey, the poem seemed especially powerful in the face of violence once more erupting in the Middle East, fires ravaging vast parts of Australia, politics generally having gone berserk and, here in the UK, all of this being incredibly easy overshadowed by a so called “royal crisis”. It would be easy to turn bitter in these times but the poem shows us how not to.

Continue by Maya Angelou

On the day of your birth

The Creator filled countless storehouses and stockings

With rich ointments

Luscious tapestries

And antique coins of incredible value

Jewels worthy of a queen’s dowry

They were set aside for your use

Alone

Armed with faith and hope

And without knowing of the wealth which awaited

You broke through dense walls

of poverty

And loosed the chains of ignorance which

threatened to cripple you so that you

could walk

A Free Woman

Into a world which needed you

My wish for you

Is that you continue

Continue

To be who and how you are

To astonish a mean world

With your acts of kindness

Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden

of your tender heart

Continue

In a society dark with cruelty

To let the people hear the grandeur

Of God in the peals of your laughter

Continue

To let your eloquence

Elevate the people to heights

They had only imagined

Continue

To remind the people that

Each is as good as the other

And that no one is beneath

Nor above you

Continue

To remember your own young years

And look with favor upon the lost

And the least and the lonely

Continue

To put the mantel of your protection

Around the bodies of

The young and defenseless

Continue

To take the hand of the despised

And diseased and walk proudly with them

In the high street

Some might see you and

Be encouraged to do likewise

Continue

To plant a public kiss of concern

On the cheek of the sick

And the aged and infirm

And count that as a

Natural action to be expected

Continue

To let gratitude be the pillow

Upon which you kneel to

Say your nightly prayer

And let faith be the bridge

You build to overcome evil

And welcome good

Continue

To ignore no vision

Which comes to enlarge your range

And increase your spirit

Continue

To dare to love deeply

And risk everything

For the good thing

Continue

To float

Happily in the sea of infinite substance

Which set aside riches for you

Before you had a name

Continue

And by doing so

You and your work

Will be able to continue

Eternally

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