Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Just Because I Walk As If I Have Oil Wells Pumping in My Living Room"? What the Heck Does That Mean?

Let's face it, Maya Angelou was a lovely woman with a sonorous voice--who wrote awful poetry.

Update: In terms of sheer poetic talent--or lack thereof--I'd put Angelou on par with Edgar Guest. Guest, too, was immensely popular in his time for composing inspirational poems for regular folks. And had Oprah been around back then, I have no doubt that Guest would have found a place on her show, since he specialized in the preachy, treacly uplift she favours.
Here's one of Guest's most famous poems. I think you'll agree that in tone and message it's not all that different from the poem Angelou recites in the YouTube clip:
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That 'maybe it couldn't,' but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: 'Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it; '
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That 'cannot be done,' and you'll do it.  
Okay, so there are no oil wells pumping in living rooms, but aside from that it's quite Angelou-esque.         

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