Written for the occasion of Bill Clinton’s first presidential inauguration in 1993Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning” foregrounds themes central to U.S. politics of the time. These themes include welcoming change, embracing inclusiveness, and facing the past. Angelou’s poem is unique for the way it personifies elements of the natural world. Three natural entities speak over the course of the poem, beckoning all U.S. citizens to take responsibility for the past and grow into better versions of themselves. The Rock, the River, and the Tree each take a turn to address the reader. In each case, they call us readers to reckon with different aspects of the country’s brutal past. Only by taking responsibility for the violence of colonization and slavery can we forge an authentic unity. In turn, only through authentic unity can we, as a nation, create a more vibrant and inclusive future. The poem closes with a clear turn to this future, symbolized by a new day that dawns “on the pulse of morning.”