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Preacher, don’t send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky
where rats eat cats
of the leopard type
and Sunday brunch
is grits and tripe.

I’ve known those rats
I’ve seen them kill
and grits I’ve had
would make a hill,
or maybe a mountain,
so what I need
from you on Sunday
is a different creed.

Preacher, please don’t
promise me
streets of gold
and milk for free.
I stopped all milk
at four years old
and once I’m dead
I won’t need gold.

I’d call a place
pure paradise
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.

Short Poem Analysis

"Preacher, Don't Send Me" is a powerful poem by Maya Angelou that speaks to the struggles and experiences of African Americans in the United States. The poem is written in free verse, without a set rhyme or meter, which gives it a sense of freedom and spontaneity.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing a preacher, asking him not to send her to heaven just yet. She describes the hardships and struggles she has faced in life, from racism and discrimination to poverty and despair. She expresses her desire to live a full and meaningful life on earth before she is called to the afterlife.

Throughout the poem, Angelou uses vivid imagery and figurative language to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences. For example, she compares life to a tree that is "bent with rotten fruit" and a river that is "raging and deep." These metaphors evoke a sense of struggle and difficulty, as well as the resilience and strength needed to overcome them.

The poem also touches on themes of identity and spirituality. The speaker expresses her frustration with the limitations and expectations placed on her as a black woman, and her desire to break free from these constraints. She also grapples with questions of faith and the afterlife, asking the preacher not to send her to a heaven she is not ready for.

Overall, "Preacher, Don't Send Me" is a poignant and powerful poem that captures the experiences of African Americans in the United States, as well as the universal struggles of human existence.

Preacher, Don’t Send Me Poem by Maya Angelou
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