Maya Angelou Sources Notecards
here to the black arms waiting
now to the warm heart waiting
rime of alien dreams befrosts her rich brown face
She came down creeping”
(In her poem concerning perhaps the confusion of her heartland, “The Mothering Blackness,” Angelou writes,)
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
(Addressing the purpose of her own African generation, in the poem “Still I Rise,” Angelou shares that,)
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees. ”
(In “Phenomenal Woman,” Angelou oozes with matriarchal confidence, as she writes,)
Southern woods and long talks
In low voices
Shielding meaning from the big ears
Of overcurious adults.”
(In one of her most personal poems, “Kin,” Angelou shares a snapshot of the private conversational world herself and her brother shares:)
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.”
(“Harlem Hopscotch” compares the childhood memory of hopping over chalk to the adult reality of hopping through the troubles of an African-American existence. Angelou waxes:)
Of dead masters. Audacious
Sunlight casts defiance
At their feet.”
(Like many of her poems, Angelou exercises her streak of defiance in this subtle but powerful poem “California Prodigal”:)
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.”
(In Angelou’s most recognisable poems, often confused with her most recognisable book “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” she describes the life of the free people of the United States and the ones still suffering under Institutional Racism, or even slavery itself.)
drags itself awake on
subway straps; and
I, an alarm, awake as a
rumor of war,”
(The lines _______ in Angelou’s “Awakening in New York” spark a sinister feeling before the poem ends suddenly, reflecting the unpredictability of the city of New York.)
I cling to expectation, until
darkness comes to reclaim me
as its own.”
(In perhaps a surge of learned helplessness, a demoralised victim of racism my raise his hopes only for them to be dropped again, as Angelou ponders in her poem “A Plagued Journey.”:)
To cure their hearts of stone.
Can make it out here alone.”
(Referring to the rich, who appear to be comfortable in their death, Angelou states in “Alone” that:)
“On the Pulse of Morning” is in freeverse style, meaning to represent the river of life that it mentioned in the poem. Additionally, the article addresses the cultural significance it carries as it was recited during the inauguration of Bill Clinton.
The poem implies dignity, but at the same time, it has a confronting tone. It effectively describes a celebration of Black female pride. Monosyllabic adjectives reflect the oral tradition passed down through African American generations.
The poem works to rise above racism, sexism, defeat, paint airs of defiance, and spark hope in the heart. “But still, (like dust or air) I rise,”
Thursby notes Angelou’s “wide, deep range of sympathies.” Concern and worry characterise “Awaking in New York”, as lines such as “rumor of war” give a sense of anxiety and of a lack of control over one’s own destiny.
The caged bird mentioned in the narration “will never know freedom, and perhaps it senses that, but its spirit is still unbroken.” The poem may also be valuable in drawing links between it and Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird sings.
A reflection of passion over a large group of people and a sense of loss of identity run through this touching poem. (Angelou) wept for the “hundreds of thousands of her people, among them her own ancestors, who had been kidnapped and taken from their homeland.”
This article, written by Rachel Thomas, is much longer, and will be useful when forming my general observations of Angelou’s poetry, especially as compared to her prose, which I will not be discussing in my paper. A perspective from far off, drawing from all her work will be helpful to my ideas for the paper.
Angelou’s writing is here noted to have a unique flavour or “sass.” Highlighted are some comical, whimsical parts of her writing, which will be useful in displaying how broad an audience her work was intended to reach.