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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Maya Angelou's poem Touched by An Angel

56 Comments

  1. sophia wilkerson says:

    what are some Beliefs Communicated in this Poem?

  2. Aaliyah says:

    I love this Poem. It is my favorite poem. Anytime my english teacher wants us to do something about poems i pick maya angelou’s touched by an angel!!!

  3. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  4. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  5. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  6. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  7. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  8. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  9. Allison M Switzer says:

    This poem shows the power of love. What love can be? I feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away. When you heart feels something it does not just disappear. Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. In the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the experience of love how would someone truly know what they are missing? Mrs. Angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are we will ever be. She is saying love involves great risks and possible pain. But in the end with true love there won’t always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person will surface. Maya talks about and angel in her poem. It’s not truly and angel but symbolic for love. How swiftly and unexpectedly it could happen. That you may not even know its there until an occurrence of pain may reveal what the heart truly feels. You never know what you have until it’s gone. Love is something to be cherished. Until someone has loved they don’t know their true self Love sets us free…

  10. allison says:

    this poem shows the power of love. what love can be. i feel that we can run all we want to from love but it will not just go away.When you heart feels something it does not just dissapear.Love heals and hurts but there is a good out come to it. in the end it will set you free. If someone was not given love or the expierence of love how would someone truly know what they are missing..Mrs. angelou is saying that love can make us. Love cost all we are and are wwe will ever be. she is saying love involves great risks and possiable pain. but in the end with true love there wont always be that down fall. Love had hardships but eventually it will set us free and show our true inner beauty and the true person weill surface. Maya talks about and angel. but its not turly and angel but symboliasm for love. how swiftly and unexpendenly it could happen. That you may not even know its there untill an accourance of pain may reveal what the heart truly feel. you never know what you have untill its gone. love sets a free…

  11. Marion says:

    I was asked to read this poem at my brother’s wedding and I can understand why after reading it. This poem is perfect for any occasion when love for another is being celebrated.

  12. Melanie says:

    Hi,
    Does anyone know what book Maya Angelou’s poem “Touched by an Angel” is printed? I looked in The complete Collected Poetry of Maya Angelou and it’s not even in there. I cannot seem to find which book it is in. Please let me know if you know.
    Thanks!!

  13. Whitney Sellers says:

    I just luv this poem and before the project my English teacher gave us i really had no iterest well now i can’t get enough so but this poem is inspiring and it has such good meaning to it and she really catches the readers attention by the vocab and the way she writes it.

    Plus Maya Angelou has some great poems but i think that this one is the best.

    🙂 Whitney 🙂

  14. Herlene says:

    it is a beautiful poem, so touching and inspiring.

  15. amber says:

    i never heard a poem like it. i love it

  16. PAMELA BROWN says:

    I was searching for the perfect poem to be read during my wedding on 5-20-06 Thank God I found yours. It is one of the greatest poem that explains the true meaning of love. It is an awesome poem. I love you Maya. You are definetly one of my role models.

  17. Miranda says:

    Really nice poem… love to me is SO important! God is love, that’s more important than person-person love.

  18. DESTINY PETE says:

    I LOVE THIS POEM BEAUSE IT TALKS ABOUT LOVE.AND LOVE IS IMPORTANT TO ME. I REALLY THINKS THIS IS A GREAT POEM.

  19. Chinelo says:

    P’s poems like these that tell us what holds the planets in orbit.
    God bless you, Maya.

  20. Anna says:

    what a surprise!!I’m a student who looking for a poem for American literature oral presentation came across on it.The things which are really strange that I was hoping to learn something about the angel here but it’s turned out to be about love .It’s brilliant-I will take it!!!

  21. Afzal says:

    I love this poem. 🙂

  22. Karen says:

    Im glad that there are people like Maya Angelou that inspire us to continue in life showing us the beauty of things like love. This poem is awesome.

  23. mmm says:

    i liked this poem it was really nice. i have never read a poem about love that was as beautiful as this one. It is truely a masterpiece. i have just finished reading “I know why the caged bird sings” also by Maya Angelouy na di think that she is a truely admirable person that has experienced the hard ships of life as an African American woman andd i respect her very much.

  24. racquel says:

    this poem is beautiful and illustrates the power of love …..it also reminds me that you cant run from it ….you cant hide

  25. Mina Lubel says:

    I am 14. You are my role model. You always inspire me. I am made fun of. But your poems help me keep my head held high. thank you.

  26. Olivia says:

    Wow, this is one of the best love poems I’ve ever read! It describes love perfectly: It heals, it hurts, but in the end it sets us free.

  27. Aimée says:

    She didn`t mention ANGELS, but that doesn`t mean she it has not meaning. It is a wonderful poem

  28. Philippa Castle says:

    Dear Anthony
    I read your comments on the Maya Angelou poetry website regarding the poem ‘Touched By An Angel’ and I want to say that it really is OK to be sad – for a while, no one wants to be sad for a long time. Think about this though: If you were not given the gift of sadness to experience, how would you really understand and interpret the experience and feeling of happiness when the angel of happiness touched your life and brought with it all the love and joy or whatever it is that happiness means for you, to you? For me, the happiness I search for is the freedom to love and be loved. It involves great risk and great pain, but the rewards turn out again and again to be beyond my wildest expectations.
    May your spirit soar with the angels.

  29. Philippa Castle says:

    I just heard on KFM radio to Google you and read a poem of yours. Now they are playing – as I type – I saw an angel. You’re beautiful, it’s true! Did you notice the anagram? I live in love and synchronicity and I am permanently “Touched By An Angel”. I have felt the extremes of love, the pain, the bliss, the ecstacy – and this poem describes it beautifully. To me the existential paradox of life is to be afraid of love, when all there is, is love and fear!

  30. XIARIA says:

    I LIKED IT!IT WAS GOOD AND IT ENCOURAGED ME TO WRITE MORE POEMS OF MY ON.

  31. Julie Fuentes says:

    This poem has become one of my favorite poems. It has so many meanings and interpretations. This poem tells me that love has hardships and it has good times, but it is what truly frees us from our surroundings. We have not experienced life until we have felt a deep love for someone. Love brings us happiness as we experience this wonderful sensation inside of us. Love can also make us sad. It hurts when we embrace this pain. Love costs all we are and will ever be. Love releases us from everything. Love is such a great emotion we have been given. This poem is great.

  32. artie archie says:

    I have done a report on you(Maya) and came across the poem TOUCHED BY BY AN ANGEL, I think it is a wonderful poem. You Rock Maya!

  33. Jewel Evans says:

    To think on this poem is sheer Beauty, it may not literally reference an Angel, but for me, the poem speaks of an Angel of Love. If we dare to let it in, it will heal our inner man, help us to forgive, and as Maya says, set us Free! Free to release the past, step into our future and become better individuals. A Touch from the Love Angel Can Transform any Human Being! It’s Contagious and we all desire to have some.(LOVE!) Well Said, Ms. Angelou

  34. Jewel Evans says:

    To think on this poem and what it means is sheer Beauty, there may not be a mention of an actual angel, but know that Love itself is an Angel, its pure, sweet, it is ecstasy, as Maya says, its pain and pleasure. The Angel of Love heals hearts,forgives and builds up, and it definately sets you Free! Much Love, Maya!

  35. Halle-i ain't berry says:

    this poem is sweet but sort of weird . becuase it says,touched by an angel but it says nothing about angels.

  36. Jackie says:

    That peom to me is sad and if your family member died it would make you sad to. How ’bout anyone from around.

  37. justine says:

    this poem means a lot to me. it shows that anyone can be loved if they believe in love. everybody is loved by someone wether it be a family member or a friend. but, in order to be loved you have to love someone yourself.

  38. alexa says:

    this poem was really sweet. I loved it.

  39. emily johnson says:

    hello we loved your poem.

  40. Elisha says:

    I liked your poem very much I just had to comment you on it.I read 6 of your poems today and I liked all of them but these one really caught my attention, and I had to sendd a comment

  41. Anonymous says:

    to julia gemine:
    here is the poem in case you still can not find it on your computer.
    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.

  42. Azriel says:

    Romance an art long passed by shows a path like a butterfly that flieth this way and that. Poetry unleashed in the quiet calm rests upon a man considering voids to make sense out of non-sense to halt a madness declared with eight minutes. Time, tide and spirit halt not but in comfort he hears a voice that says quietly;
    As sleep comes I speak and say’ I love you’ and a reply comes back’ I love you too’.
    “Somewhere there’s someone who dreams of your smile, and finds in your presence that life is worthwhile. So, when you are lonely remember its true: somebody, somewhere is thinking of you. ”
    Get into your bed and get comfy. Slowly yet softly close your eyes and I will be waiting to see you in your dreams!

    I rule in my dreams,

    Azriel

  43. Dana says:

    I’d really like to read some more of Maya’s poetry, does anyone know what book this is published in? I’ve tried looking online, but I can’t seem to locate it, and help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  44. Cynthia Pichardo says:

    I really don’t like the poem it self. I like the metaphores and stuff she used in it though. You can tell she’s very educated and been through a lot by reading her poems. Personally, don’t care much for this poem! 🙂

    -cindyxxx

  45. Golesd says:

    Hi, I like poem lot! Make me feel godd! Thank you Maya Angelou for writting it.

  46. Lukays says:

    This poem means much to me and my country! We are not treated right, because of our leaders! This poem says about love and that everyone should be loved! I wish that this loving toke place inside and around my country! This poem makes me happy and reminds me that I should love everyone!

  47. Kristine says:

    I loved this poem, I used it for a memorization poem in school, everyone loves it! The poems means so much! Everyone goes through changes in their life; but if they believe, love will appear in so many different ways.

  48. julia Gemine says:

    How do we read the poem ? I am a poorly educated women who has worked hard to self – educate myself – I WANT to read, your website does not make it easy to access the poem, just the comments, this makes it twice as frustrating as I know that I am easily able to conect with the sentiments expressed, BUT, can not read the words that helped people communicate their feelings, do not understand how to access the words that moved people to identify and relate to the poet who so well identified emotions, feelings and allowed people to touch a piece of their humanity and compassion – I am just a sad person, I.T illiterate,maybe I am just sad, but I have an interest in the future of humanity, a real experience of life, I find it hard to express myself, that is not true, however,I was frustrated when searching your web site, I wanted to read the poem – did not easily understand how to do this, pleases make it a simple process, allow people like me to sample a little piece of education, diversity and knowledge, wishing you a very peacful and happy Christmas – Julia

  49. Mariam says:

    I liked this poem so much, I decided to do a project on it. I need some help though. What are some poetic techniques and literary devices Ms. Angelou uses in the poem and and the effects of those devices? Is there any background information of the poem, such as why the author chose to write it or her experiences that relate to the poem? I would really appreciate it if anybody knows some extra information, thanks a lot!

  50. Sh'Nardria Prterson says:

    The poem touches my haret
    no matter how many times i have read it i enjoy it
    and when ever i read it again i read it with pride
    and i always think its new no matter what

  51. Nevaeh says:

    Great poem!! Very awesome… My country small..

  52. Kristine says:

    I enjoyed this poem greatly! It expressed what alot of people go through. Maya Angelou has truly touched my heart!

  53. Betty Rittersdorf says:

    I enjoyed your poem very much and wanted to comment on the love from the high holy temple. These are things I believe to be true.
    God has put in every human being the desire to love and be loved. The desire to live forever and He has also given us hope in those desires. Hope is an expectation of the fullfillment of His promises.
    Everything we experience in this life is a necessary part of our relationship to our Father (Heavenly). He promised to reconcile all things unto Himself (Colossians 1:16-20 ),and to wipe all our tears away (Revelation 7:17& Rev.21:4).
    Christ willingly took on the form of man ,to taste physical suffering and death for every man (Hebrews 2:9) so that he would experience Himself what He had ordained for others. It also “became God, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). And we have a Savior who is not without sympathy (Hebrews 2:17&18),(Revelation 4:15&16). Love always seeks the well-being and happiness of others.
    It cost Christ His life, all we can do is appreciate and be thankful that we’re loved just the way we are (love begets love) He always loved us first. We didn’t ask to be born, We didn’t ask for our parents, our personalities, the eyes we see with, the air we breath, etc. They are all gifts from our Father, He also promised to love and bless us now and Forever.
    We can be brave and boldly go into the presence of our Father, it is His good pleasure to take care of the needs of His children.

  54. daduni says:

    the poem speaks of the universal truth that is love…… the wisdon of the heart that never fails …. the triumph of imagination over intellect……. love… love n love……. that’s all we need………

  55. Jamilah says:

    This poem is just so touching and very true. Everyone goes through the feeling of being lonely or letting love or something important pass them by, because they’re too afraid to grasp it. But with faith and and hope things will go right for us.

  56. Lana says:

    This poem is so very true. I understand it all. Some day, sometime, everyone will feel this way.

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