I will first write a brief overview of each poem, starting with ‘ Still I Rise ‘
Still I Rise has seven stanzas, each with a definate rhyme scheme of ABCB, with the endings of the second and last lines rhyming. The Poem is written to be read with one voice, whcih carries strength throughout the verse, yet still manages to seem bitter and angry at the same time.
The poem starts in the past tense, and seems to flow through time, ending in the present tense. The last line in each stanza contains ‘ I Rise’, and i think that this emphasis the title, and the struggles that the writer faced in this poem.
Life Doesn`t Frighten Me has eight stanzas, with an erratic rhyme scheme that only becomes apparent in the latter stanzas. This poem seems to conjure up images with its words, which really helps us to read and understand the poem.
It is written quite simply, but effectively, with short words to help it roll of the tounge. I think that the message of the poem is pretty clear, that the writer is not afraid of anything, unless she is asleep. It is almost as if she knows that to show an emotional reaction is an almost certainty to accept defeat.
Still I Rise.
In this poem, Maya Angelou is accusing us, the readers, of telling evil lies, and she also says that we have ridden her into the ground, and that we may shoot her, cut her and if it pleases us to, we can kill her.
In the first stanza, I think that she may be reflecting upon old history books and archives, saying that they are full of lies, and that she knows the real truth. With this one voice, I think that she may be celebrating the abolition of slavery, when she says how the slaves were transported, and how they were treated like dirt in the hulls of ships. they would only see the black in the hull, and the black of night if they were allowed out.
The last verses however, i think depict her joy at being set free, and to be classed as an equal citizen.
Angelou talks about oil wells, gold mines and diamonds in the poem.
Blck slaves were put to work in these places, and also oil and diamond mining was big business back in Africa and the middle east, where the slaves had come from. This may have been a way of remembering her ancestors and family back home in Africa, and wishing that she could be back with them rather than working for nothing but a few sadistic, selfish, arrogant slave owners.
On a personal note, i find the whole concept of slavery sickening. No-one can belong to anyone else, human beings are free spirits which cannot be owned.
Life Doesn`t Frighten Me.
This poem tells us about the things that do not firighten the writer, but may cause some people to be un-nerved by them.
The first stanza has an eerie, mystical aure around it, when she talks about shadows and noises, this sets up the rest of the poem with a standard to keep to. T the end of the third and last line of the first, second and fourth stanzas, the line
‘ Life doesn`t frightn me at all ‘ is repeated. I think that this is done to emphasise the fact and the title, or to let the writer believe herself, so to reinforce what she is saying.
This poem has some similar qualities to ‘Still I Rise’, the way the stanzas are easy to understand and the way the words just roll off your tounge.
The third stanza is written in almost a list form, with very simple mono – syllabic words and hardly any punctuation, it is meant to be said quickly and breathlessly. From stanza six onwards however, the poe, takes a change in rhythym, and the pattern of the stanza changes with the second and last lines ending in rhyme.
The last stanza is the most inportant I think. When Angelou repeats the line ‘ Not at all ‘ , I think that this repetition is to reinforce what she is saying, almost to help her to believe her own words if she doubts them.
The short, sharp layout gives a sense of impact in the poem, and the whole poem is written to be read in the way of a little girl`s voice. The nding of the poem is not particularly surprising or thought provoking, although the change in pattern and rhyme makes me think that the writer may have been in some distress, and possibly in denial.
There is no heavy punctuation throughout the poem, just the occasional and obligatory full stop or comma to allow the reader to breathe.