Touched By an Angel
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.
2. I chose this poem because I think it gets its point across without being excessively flowery or forcefully artistic. I memorized it last year for the APAL love poem assignment. Maya Angelou tells it like it is, instead of tries to make it sound like she's an accomplished poet (even though she is).
3. The title of this poem refers to the fact that love is like an angel. In the Bible, angels have always been the bringers of good news, the ones who party with the souls in Heaven, etc. This poem contains many biblical references, such as love's "high holy temple." The title also suggests that the speaker has already fallen in love and is describing it.
4. I've already pointed out the allusions to the Bible, but Angelou's poem contains other poetic devices, not because she "used" them, but because they came naturally. Love is personified a few times, when the speaker says "love...sets us free" and "love... comes into sight to liberate us into life". Also the metaphors "shells of loneliness" and "chains of fear" help paint a better picture of what the speaker is feeling. A shell of loneliness reminds the reader of an animal that recoils into its lonely shell to avoid pain, and a chain of fear depicts how fear can actually hold someone back. The poetic devices create a stronger and more realistic message for the reader.
5. The tone of this piece changes throughout the poem. In the beginning, the tone is a bit hopeless and depressed, as if nothing can fix the horrible problems except love, but love is unattainable. Beginning with the line "Yet if we are bold," the tone changes to be more optimistic. As it turns out, love actually can change the course of one's life.