The analysis Maya Angelou’s poem “Insomniac”

Topics: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an outstanding African American author, poet and known civil rights activist who published various collections of poetry that made an impact on society. She caught the public’s attention with her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, discusses about her early life in the South where suffered from internal conflicts at a young age due to racism and being sexualy abused which prevented her from speaking. Angelou took advantage of her tragic past to tell a story and bring contribution to poetry.

Angelou’s poems “Insomniac”, “Touched By An Angel”, and “Alone” each demonstrates a purpose and a result and they justify a sense of loneliness.

Angelou’s poem “Insomniac”can be interpreted in two ways. The poem has eight lines, consists of personification, simile and alliteration . The title of the poem itself , Angelou discusses to the the reader she in unable to sleep either due to biological factors or a person. According to American author Linda Wagner-Martin, “Angelou frequently describes the way writing centers her life (Martin 20).

In the poem “Insomniac” she uses sleep to convey a point that occured in her life. Angelou uses personification in the second line, “sleep plays coy” to explain sleep as disconnected and unapproachable which could be a person who refuse her affection. Angelou tells the reader, “she employs to win” however they “are useless as wounded pride and much more painful”. This line means the memory of the person not wanting her hurts more than being rejected.

The seventh line, “useless as wounded pride” is a simile in which she tell the readers that despite all her effort she remains restless .

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According to Mary Jane Lipton , “Angelou is still fearful and dependent”(Lupton 79). She grew being isolated due to her skin color, now that she is in her adulthood she needs someone that who can make her feel safe and wanted at all times. Although the poem is short, Angelou successfully delivered her point to the reader. The thought of feeling unwanted is not something people want to listen to and Angelou struggles to overcome the situation.

Angelou continues to talk about her still wanting to live, in the poem “Touched By An Angel”. The poem is written in free verse, with no rhyme schemes. In each stanzas discusses about the concept of love. Linda Martin said on her autobiography about Angelou, “it is Angelou’s poems rather than her autobiographies that gives readers information about love” (Martin 144).Stanza one discusses about how humans are unfamiliar with courage and lives in loneliness until love or a special someone arrive and lift people up in their misery. In the poem, she uses the imagery of “high holy temples” to suggest that love is quite a powerful thing that takes over peoples lives. Angelou “depicts the isolation she felt as young girl-enduring the racism of the south and surviving violent sexual trauma”(Mickel 33). Angelou continues by having a metaphor that a train is a carrying cargo of memories.

People experience love, they get the sense of joy and tend to forget about the bad memories. She described “ancient histories” as the memory of sorrows. In stanza three, Angelou explains that when love exist people become braver to make tough decisions. In a world filled with terror and hatred, Angelou’s message of the redemptive power of love is welcome”(Sara).In conclusion, Maya Angelou, hold onto the idea of having affection, by the word “daring” to be courageous and not have the feeling of fear in life. She is aware that the idea of love is a challenge, however it is not an answer to problems in life. Love is something everything a person can give, but that will cost people with something more. Angelou thinks that love can be also rewarding, but can take over peoples lives in an instant.

Angelou continues to express her misery in her poem “Alone”. The poem is written in free verse that does not consist any rhyme scheme . At the end of every stanza she ends it with a line “But nobody can make it out here alone” which is a form of repetition. The word “Alone” itself informs a sense of isolation meaning if a person has nobody to rely on, they will not be able to survive in this world. The poem “is not directed at anyone particular sector of society but rather focused on the human condition”(Bloom 211). In stanza one , Maya brings the reader to a self realization while she question herself at night which is the darkest time of the hour because at the end of the day people reflect on their life. She needs a place to stay where “water is not thirsty and bread loaf is not stone” which is an allusion from the bible.The speaker discusses how in order survive, a person needs to find someone to depend on. She repeats “Nobody can make it out here alone” to claim that people need a companion whether it is a relative or a friend. In stanza three she uses the example of wealth by stating “millionaires” who have everything in life, but they are still unhappy due to the fact that money will not bring happiness to a person’s life. In most cases, money makes people unaware of reality due to their luxurious life.

In a critical view of Angelou by Harold Bloom,” Angelou uses elements of fantasy to illustrate disappointments and defeats” (Bloom 34). She brings the image of a female Irish mythology “their wives run around like Banshee”. For Angelou, millionaires are blinded by the fact they have so much money that their own family feels distance to each other. In stanza five,she reminds her readers to pay attention “storms clouds are gathering, the wind blow, the race of a man is suffering” in order for people to survive people must reach out and help one another from sorrowness. The poems repetition concludes that people need to be aware of their surroundings by her repeating the line because someone are in need of desperate help. Angelou poems “Insomniac, “Touched By An Angel” and “Alone” each emonstartes a form emptiness.

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The analysis Maya Angelou’s poem “Insomniac”. (2021, Dec 08). Retrieved from

The analysis Maya Angelou’s poem “Insomniac”
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