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"Women Work" by Maya Angelou

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by

Nicole Miele

on 29 September 2014

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Transcript of "Women Work" by Maya Angelou

"Woman Work" by Maya Angelou
I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I've got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The cane to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick
Devices
consonance
One device used in the poem is consonance. The first stanza has hard consonance sounds like the "t" in "gotta", "tots", and "cotton", the hard G sound in "garden", and the hard C sound in "clothes", "company", "cane", and "cotton". The following stanzas, however, have softer consonances. For example, the soft S in "shine", "storm", and "sky", and the soft F in "fall", "fiercest", and "leaf".
Devices (continued)
personification
The speaker personifies nature into something that relieves her stress and tiresome work. "Cover me with white Cold icy kisses." She asks nature to cool her tired body and let her soul find rest.
Tone
The tone of the first stanza is tense and tired. The woman lists chores that tire her out and create stress in her life. The hard consonances reinforce the tense tone.

The second through fifth stanzas are spoken in a graceful and content tone. She does not have much, but she is still content with the nature that surrounds her. The soft consonances reinforce the content and graceful tone.
Theme
Two themes were present in this poem: struggle and lonliness. She has all of these chores to do including the floor to mop, the garden to weed, and the cotton to pick. All of these things tire her out, and as she speaks about them in a hurried manner, it's almost as if she struggles to get them done. The other theme present in this poem is lonliness. She mentions her children three times, but never any husband. The woman's lonliness seems to be filled by nature, because it is the only thing that she can call her own.
Setting
Southern states
"Then the chicken to fry"
"The cane to be cut"
"And the cotton to pick"

The setting in the poem is the South. The first clue is "Then the chicken to fry". Fried chicken is a dish commonly found in the South. The second clue is "The cane to be cut". Cane refers to sugar cane, which can only be grown in warmer climates like the South. The last clue to the setting is " "And the cotton to pick". Cotton, like sugar cane, can only be grown in warmer climates. Therefore, the setting is a state in the South.
"Women Work" by Maya Angelou
by Nicole Miele, Lira Ndreu, Evan Lange

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brown again

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
'Til I can rest again

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountains, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You're all that I can call my own
Imagery
The first example of imagery can be found in the woman's work. The first stanza describes her chores from cooking, mending, feeding, and weeding. This makes the pace quick and hurried and makes you picture a chaotic environment.
The second through fifth stanzas paint a calm picture of nature using different weather forms. Sunshine, rain, storms, wind, and snowflakes are all used. Also, many different locations like mountains and oceans. This imagery creates a relaxing setting with many different places and environments.
Summary
"Woman Work" by Maya Angelou is about a woman's chores and jobs throughout the day. The poem relates Maya nd her life as a single mother. The first stanza lists a bunch of chores, and is written in a fast and overwhelming pace. The second through fifth stanzas slow down and discuss the importance of nature to her. Nature is the only thing in her life that does not add any stress and is an outlet for her tiresome and busy day.
Verse Form
The first stanza's verse form is rhymed verse in form AABB. This verse form makes the line very quick hurried. This adds a tedious rush to the first stanza to emphasize the amount of work the woman has to do throughtout the day. The last stanzas are free verse, which makes the tempo of the poem slow down dramatically. This calms down the overwhelmed readers and gives them peace, just like the women in the poem experiences after her long day of work.
Author's Purpose
Maya Angelou's purpose for writing the poem was to illustrate the struggles of a single black mother in the southern United States.
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