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In 1993 when Bill Clinton decided to invite a poet to read at his first inauguration ceremony for the first time since John F Kennedy invited Robert Frost in 1961 he chose fellow Arkansas native Maya Angelou to write a poem celebrating the new beginning of his first presidency The panoramic piece that Angelou composed On the Pulse of Morning reached millions of television viewers Its popularity proved so great that it was published as a cassette and chapbook in 1993Anderson 4 The work was distributed to schools libraries cultural centers and bookstores nationwide Shiflet 8 Appropriate for what Clinton promised would be a new era in American history On the Pulse of Morning is a radiant piece that offers hope for the future by using good points of the past Bloom 34 Angelou writes the poem using three objects of nature A Rock A River A Tree Angelou 1 from which point she searches the distant past to provide answers for the present as well as advice for Americas future Drawing different races cultures and religions together the poem invites all of humankind to return to the foundations that made the country great including basic values and an appreciation of nature Bloom 40 Angelou calls upon ancient voices in hopes that Each new hour holds new chancesfor a new beginning Angelou 5 Maya Angelous works specifically this poem is complex in its themes style historical context and its critical overview The first theme in this poem is knowledge and ignorance Written in the personae of nature as a teacher On the Pulse of Morning offers a clear message of how America should prepare for the future Beginning as early as the second stanza the Rock offers an invitation to stand upon its back to face a distant destiny Anderson 16 This intensified outlook offers a clear vision of what is on the horizon a theme that repeats throughout the
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