"The Rock Cries Out to Us Today" is a poem by Maya Angelou. It is a very sensual and aesthetic poem relying on nature for much of its sustenance. The poem is longer than most but has an environmental message that calls the reader to respect the rock, the tree, the river. Maya uses the words of the Bible to convey many of her thoughts and messages. The poems appears as a tribute to science: archeology in particular.
She refers to man as 'you, created a little lower than the angels'. The Rock here does not refer to a religious but an environmental symbol. For she says that the rock, ' Come . . . stand on my back and face your distant destiny, but seek no haven in my shadow.' That phase opposes what the churches teacher about the Rock of Ages, or the religious Rock. She also mentions that all religions consider the rock as wise. However, she does refer to the Creator in her poem stating that it was the Creator gave her peace and the ability to sing.
Maya says that man is ignorant and 'lain down in darkness too long.' Death is the speech that man uses. She talks about war that leaves waste and debris upon the shores of countries. The poem also encourages the reader to separate from fear and violence. This refers to the bones that cover the banks of many rivers.
The poem has a strong Native American slant to it as well: Creator, and the names of many Indian tribes, and the phrase, 'who gave me my first name'. Also, the personification of the tree, rock, and river reveal this tendency.
The poem offers hope and encouragement looking to the future and the importance of dreaming. Phrases like: "take it in … your hands and mold it'; and 'each new hour holds new chances' provide the reader with a second chance and energy to move on with this life. It is a call to start a new day, to say good morning when things around you may not satisfy you now. By looking to tomorrow and dreaming new dreams, no matter who you are. Courage and energy exist. Just by looking at the tree, river, and rock courage grows more and more. For the poem directs the reader to look for courage in the eyes of her/his brothers, sisters, and country.
The poem doesn't deny that struggles, war, and discouragement exist but it offers that the reader look at nature to overcome the struggles that do exist as the tree, the river, and the rock do. She even uses fossils to convey the idea that they existed here and made their mark in the same way the reader should.