ON AGING by Maya Angelou

I found this in my Random House Treasury of Best Loved Poems.  I thought I’d share it.

On Aging

When you see me sitting quietly, like a sack upon a 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.

— Maya Angelou

Louis Phillips, ed., The Random House Treasury of Much Loved Poems, 2nd ed. (New York:  Random House, Inc., 1995), 60.


21 responses to “ON AGING by Maya Angelou

  1. Somehow when i was heading here to thank you for the reblog this is where I landed. Amazing to me that i needed this poem today, only did not know it until now,
    Feeling all of my ole body that thinks it is older than my mind and heart. Fool!

    Thanks again sweetie. i willreturn to the present soon ~ BB

  2. Pingback: » Getting My Own Goat Humanyms

  3. This is a wonderful strong message. I feel I’ll be like this when I come of age – no rocking chair, thanks, & thinning hair sure, but truly the same.

  4. I would love to hear Maya Angelou read this one…I’ve heard her on Oprah years ago…so very expressive a voice. Thanks for sharing, Judith.

  5. Perfect for me on this day where I am dealing with my 90-year-old uncle who is in a nursing home after a stay in the hospital. I was sad about him being so old but Maya is telling me I should be happy he is still alive. Thank you Maya and Judith.

    • You are welcome, of course, but I really don’t get any credit — this poem jumped out of the book and onto my computer! I hope your uncle is as well as he can be — he’s lucky to have you to care about him.

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