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[Poetry Friday] Maya Angelou’s “Love’s Exquisite Freedom” with Paintings by Sir Edward Burne-Jones: A Unique Pairing of Verse and Art

poetry friday

Myra here.

It has been awhile since I joined the Poetry Friday community and I am glad to be back with a poetry book that I discovered by accident in our public library. When I saw that it was by Maya Angelou, I just know that it would be a perfect book to feature for our Diversified Reading theme.

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To bask in even more poetic goodness, please visit Reading to the Core who is hosting Poetry Friday this week.

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Love’s Exquisite Freedom

Written by: Maya Angelou Paintings by: Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Published byWelcome Books, 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Reminiscent of Maya Angelou’s Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All with graffiti art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, this picture book in verse is a unique pairing between Maya Angelou and another great artist, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898). This is part of the Art & Poetry Series published by Welcome Books.

Each line of Maya Angelou’s glorious poem is paired with Burne-Jones’ pre-Raphaelite paintings. How can one go wrong with such an inspired synthesis of beauty in word and image? Here are a few of my favourite images from the book:

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As can be seen in the two images, there are pages with a full-spread image, while there are others where the text can be found on one page, and the image on the other. Clearly, the book design, layout, and typography have also been thoughtfully considered in all its exquisite detail, contributing to the overall elegant golden feel of the book.

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Since the lines seem like captions to the visual art, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the whole essence of the poem. What I did was to read the poem in its entirety found at the end of the book, then ‘read’ the book again just immersing myself in the beauty of the images, and then read it a third time with both poetry and painting.

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There is enough beauty here that can last one an entire lifetime, really. Holding this book in my hands seemed like a gift, as I also allowed myself to feel Angelou’s message of love’s exquisite freedom that makes us dare to be brave, despite “histories of pain,” and that when love arrives, it is able to strike “away the chains of fear from our souls” and wean us “from our timidity”

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… and suddenly we see that love costs all we are & will ever be.

Yet it is only love which sets us free.

The entire poem is found here:

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It also reminded me of India Arie’s Ready for Love. Enjoy the music, poetry-loving friends.

“Ready For Love”
India Arie

I am ready for love
Why are you hiding from me
I’d quickly give my freedom
To be held in your captivity

I am ready for love
All of the joy and the pain
And all the time that it takes
Just to stay in your good grace
Lately I’ve been thinking
Maybe you’re not ready for me
Maybe you think I need to learn maturity
They say watch what you ask for 
Cause you might receive 
But if you ask me tomorrow 
I’ll say the same thing

I am ready for love
Would you please lend me your ear?
I promise I won’t complain 
I just need you to acknowledge I am here

If you give me half a chance
I’ll prove this to you 
I will be patient, kind, faithful and true
To a man who loves music
A man who loves art
Respect’s the spirit world
And thinks with his heart

I am ready for love
If you’ll take me in your hands
I will learn what you teach
And do the best that I can

I am ready for love
Here with an offering of 
My voice
My Eyes
My soul
My mind

Tell me what is enough
To prove I am ready for love

I am ready

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

9 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Maya Angelou’s “Love’s Exquisite Freedom” with Paintings by Sir Edward Burne-Jones: A Unique Pairing of Verse and Art

  1. A lovely presentation of art and text, and music, too.

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  2. Always wonderful to see you on a Poetry Friday, Myra!
    My hubby actually surprised me with this book a few years ago. I love the way you suggest taking it in – the poem, the art, then the melding of the two.

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  3. Lovely discovery, Myra. I love the advice inherent in that final stanza, & beautiful pairing of art and her words.

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  4. Nice to “see” you, Myra! An insightful pairing and elegant book. Robyn’s husband is such a romantic. 🙂 I can see why you needed to read the poem in its entirety first before you broke it down.

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  5. maryleehahn

    Angelou’s poem reminds me of “Barter” by Sara Teasdale. What a gorgeous book, and how lucky to have it find you by accident!

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  6. A trifecta of goodness, Myra! Poetry + art + music = the prefect combination. =)

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  7. What an absolutely gorgeous book! The paintings are so romantic, other-worldly and rich and made even more so by the poem. Truly a find to get excited about.

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  8. Keri Collins Lewis

    You bring so much to our PF community, Myra! Today is no exception — what a serendipitous discovery at the library! I need to look harder when I go! 🙂

    Like

  9. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] Classic Love Poems Watched with Exquisite Love-Filled Art in “I Love You” – Gathering Books

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