Touched by an Angel

By: Maya Angelou

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
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Literal

Stanza 1


  • The speaker says that people like him/her (who are deprived of joy) are lonely until they discover love which delivers them



Stanza 2


  • Speaker elaborates on how love saves those in trouble, which is by releasing them from their "chains of fear"



Stanza 3

  • The speaker explains that in the light of love one can be parted from his/her timidity and be made bold
  • Even though one's entire lifestyle will be changed, one is delivered from being "exiles of delight" and is set free

Situation

  • The speaker is describes love and how it delivers those that feel as though they are shunned and lonely
  • As the readers, we truly don't know the identity of the speaker, but he/she is speaking about a group which he/she includes himself/herself in by using collective pronouns such as we and our when describing the group
  • The speaker could be talking to anyone, and we know that he/she can be trusted because the speaker has been through loneliness and experienced being delivered by love
  • The one of the poem is calm which is expressed through the words the speaker uses such as love, delight, pleasure, bold, and light when speaking

Structure

  • The poem consists of three stanzas: The first stanza has 6 lines, the second stanza has 7, and the third has 8
  • These stanzas don't have a rhyme scheme but is written in a rhythmically flowing free verse
  • In all there are only three sentences in the entire poem because there is a period at the end of each stanza
  • The speaker first states the problem and the solution in the first stanza, and in the second and third stanza how the solution (love) works
  • The title Touched by an Angel means implies that an angel represents love because love is the benevolent force that aids the lonely in the poem

Language

  • The diction of the poem is formal
  • The mood that I receive from this poem is very calm and happy
  • The Maya Angelou heavily personifies love in the poem by saying that it "leaves its holy temple", and "love strikes away the chains of fear"

Musical Devices

  • The poem is very free form so there is no rhyme scheme