Poetry Sunday: On Aging by Maya Angelou

There are many poems by Maya Angelou that are very well known and are integral parts of modern culture. Poems like Caged Bird, Still I Rise, and Phenomenal Woman spring readily to mind, but not all of her poems are so well known. This is one of those.

It may not be so famous but when I read it last week I felt a flash of recognition from this poem. As a woman who is no longer young, I understand very well the sentiments expressed here, and it comforts me somehow to know that Maya Angelou felt them, too.

On Aging

by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me! 
Hold! Stop your sympathy! 
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it! 
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.  


  1. New to me, Dorothy. That last line says it all for this old lady. I'm going to make it my mantra instead of continually complaining about my infirmities. P.x

    1. It was new to me, also, but it came to me just when I needed it!

  2. Thanks Dorothy. How we do all get on!

  3. Thank you, Dorothy, for this beautiful blog. I love, love, love Maya Angelou's poetry. I shared your post on my facebook page and hope others will enjoy as well. Thanks, again!

    1. That's very kind of you, Shirley. I hope your FB friends enjoy!

  4. What a delightful poem, and so on point! ;-)

    1. One certainly gets the feeling that she knew what it was to get older.

  5. Replies
    1. It is a very insightful poem and certainly meaningful to those of us of a certain age!


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