Inspiration Thursday - Phenomenal Woman

I'm not usually a poetry reader...which has always struck me as a tad funny since I am a poet.  Writing is one thing.  Reading another.  Some poets reach me, but the majority of it doesn't move me the way prose does.  But, I somewhat recently unearthed a slim volume of poetry by Maya Angelou that was given to me by Morgan, a friend in college who has now lives across the country from me.  She had inscribed a message to me that read in part to "Keep some Maya around.  She'll save you every time."   I hadn't read the collection in quite some time so I plucked it from the shelf and read it.  The poem Phenomenal Woman has been running though my head in the days since. 

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


  1. I love poetry but cannot or will not write it. And, I love Maya Angelou. For my graduation a friend gave me a slim volume, more of a presentation copy of ON THE PULSE OF MORNING. I have it framed in a huge frame on my wall. I can read it from a different copy any time I want.

    My very pretty, openly sexual friend who was always giving off vibes could not understand why a plainer woman (me)was preferred by men we I guess I know. If I heard her trilling laughter as we browsed a yard sale or the college library, I knew a man was about! She spent so much time on her looks and I did not. She thought her bottle blond looks should trump a woman whose hair was just beginning to show signs of gray. I am not all that phenomenal, but still.....


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