“On the Pulse of Morning” is written in free verse, meaning that it doesn’t have a consistent or regular meter. Each line has its own rhythm, which gives the poem a dynamic sense of flow. At several points, Angelou uses lines of very different lengths to create powerful effects of elaboration and punctuation. Consider, for example, these lines from the ninth stanza (lines 63–66):

     You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
     You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
     Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
     Praying for a dream.

Notice how the length of each line in this passage diminishes in length. The shortening lines create a funneling effect. The opening two lines offer lengthy lists of different kinds of newcomers to the New World. Whereas the newcomers listed in the first line have little in common other than their desire for a new life, the newcomers listed in the second line arrived from West Africa against their will. The next two lines, in their concise pointedness, powerfully and underscore the brutality experienced by those West African groups: “the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru.” In this example, then, the diminishing line length allows for Angelou to make a pointed reference to historical violence.

The ending of the poem also uses variations in meter and line length to powerful effect:

     Here, on the pulse of this new day
     You may have the grace to look up and out
     And into your sister’s eyes, and into
     Your brother’s face, your country
     And say simply
     Very simply
     With hope—
     Good morning.

Like the previous passage, this one (lines 100–107) features a single sentence written in lines of diminishing length. In this case, the shortening lines create a sense of anticipation for the reader. The first four lines establish a hypothetical situation of what we readers might do, poised as we are “on the pulse of this new day.” Despite the length of these lines, it isn’t clear yet where this sentence is going or what point the speaker will finally make. The reader is eager to know how this hypothetical will resolve, and the shorter four lines that conclude the poem promise to provide the answer. But even though the final four lines are each very short, the speaker continues to suspend our anticipation. Note in particular how the final lines stretch out a single thought by inserting two qualifying phrases: “very simply” and “with hope.” These additional lines defer the completion of an otherwise simple statement: “And say simply . . . Good morning.” Here, as at other points in the poem, Angelou capitalizes on the flexibility of free verse to create powerful effects of suspension and anticipation.