“A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou


Summary of the Poem “A Brave and Startling Truth”

“A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou is a symbolic poem. It speaks to the need for humanity to come together and create a world of peace and harmony. The poem begins with a call to action, urging the reader to rise up and take notice of the world around them. The speaker implores the reader to see the truth and face it bravely.

The poem continues by describing the world as it currently stands, filled with conflict, hatred, and violence. The speaker laments that humanity has become divided, with each person living in their own self-made world. The poem begins with the speaker alluding to a “truth” that humanity will eventually arrive at. We showcase our best and worst characteristics as we fly throughout the universe. The speaker laments how humanity readily takes part in good and evil acts. On the one hand, we are reaching for deadly weapons, while on the other hand, we tend to provide tender care and try to create artistic compositions.  Despite this, the speaker believes there is hope for a better future.

The speaker then calls on humanity to unite and create a world where love and compassion are the norms. They urge the reader to put aside their differences and to work towards a common goal of creating a world where all people are treated with dignity and respect.

The poem concludes with a sense of optimism and hope for the future. The speaker believes that if humanity can come together and work towards a common goal, they can create a world where peace and harmony reign supreme. The poem ends with a call to action, urging the reader to take up the mantle and to work towards creating a better future for all.

Major Themes in “A Brave and Startling Truth”

Unity, solidarity, hope, and change are the major themes layered in the poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker stresses the need for unity and solidarity. She speaks of the need for people to come together and work towards a common goal. She writes of a “great and powerful” truth that all must embrace. Also, it calls on people to join hands and stand together in the face of challenges. This theme is emphasized by the poem’s refrain, which repeats the phrase, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” It reminds us that the power to create change lies within ourselves.

Angelou describes a world facing numerous challenges, from environmental disasters to social inequality. She urges people to take bold, decisive steps to address these issues and not be afraid of the risks and sacrifices that may be required. Furthermore, the themes of hope and determination also shine in the context. Despite humanity’s challenges and obstacles, Angelou believes that courage and perseverance help us create a better world. She writes of a “new dawn” that is possible and encourages people to hold onto their hopes and dreams, even in the darkest times.

Analysis of the Devices Used in the Poem

  • Alliteration: The poem contains several examples of alliteration, such as “And when they speak, they share a common sound” and “A truth that’s only lied about.”
  • Enjambment: The poem uses enjambment to carry over lines and phrases from one stanza to the next, creating a sense of continuity and flow.
  • Hyperbole: The poem uses hyperbolic language to exaggerate the importance and power of the truth, such as “A truth that’s only lied about, a truth that’s never died.”
  • Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to convey its message, such as “This truth is shining like a beacon in the night” and “A truth that’s shining like a powerful light.”
  • Personification: The poem personifies the truth as a “beacon” and a “powerful light” to emphasize its importance and strength.
  • Synecdoche: The poem uses synecdoche to refer to the truth as “they” and “their,” emphasizing the collective nature of the truth and its relevance to all individuals.
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is used to create a unique depth and relevance in the poem., The poem uses symbols such as hope, unity, change, courage, and challenges.


To conclude, “A Brave and Startling Truth” is a powerful call to action and a celebration of the human spirit. It challenges us to come together and work towards a brighter future, reminding us of our power to create change.

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