15

The speaker in the poem is a single woman who entertains married men. Comparing her position as "the other woman" to the men's domestic life, the speaker imagines that they probably praise her to their wives. This praise could be the men's justification for their affair, claiming that they were carried away by the speaker's charms and also ...


12

The narrator of he poem seems to be a mistress to married men. Since it's unusual for a mistress to have multiple lovers at the same time, I think she's figuratively representing most mistresses, not just one woman. She gives the men sexual pleasure greater than they get from their wives, and she maintains her home cleaner than their homes, and she doesn't ...


6

"Woman Work" depicts women's unpaid labor as a form of slavery. Slaves by definition are dispossessed of the right to own anything. The poem's word choice and imagery are carefully deployed to show how and why the woman can call only the stars and the moonlight her own. In the first stanza, the speaker lays out a litany of chores that are typically ...


6

While Maya Angelou did not call herself a Christian, believing that ‘calling yourself a Christian was referring to something that was complete, rather than a work in progress’ she certainly tried to become one, which may be relevant to the couplets about bread and water. In an interview in the LA Times in 1992 she said: I have always tried to find myself a ...


3

It is pointing out that whatever they say, they value something else greater than the sum of all of the qualities they praise. What that is, either isn’t known or isn’t acknowledged, but it must exist. This makes the praise a consolation prize at best, and active disrespect at worst (as a distraction from the truth, which is that they don’t really ...


2

The poem contrasts material needs with emotional ones. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, after basic needs such as food, water, and safety are met, the individual feels psychological needs like belongingness and love. The speaker here has a home, water, and bread, i.e., all the material necessities. But her emotional needs are still unmet. And following Maslow,...


2

If someone is thirsty, it means they need water. To drink, since that's what water is for us - something to drink. If water is thirsty, it means it needs water. For companionship, since it is already water itself. This is my reading of that line of the poem: it's a masterfully succinct way to express the idea of everything needing companionship, even water. ...


2

While most interpretations of this poem that one finds online describe the work as clearly relating to a mother and daughter, I find myself wondering if it relates to a different theme. The poem was released in a 1972 collection, putting it in the wake of Angelou's own soujourn in Egypt and Ghana from 1961 to 1965. She first went to Egypt with her then ...


2

The caged bird’s “shadow” is “screaming”. This is in vain, as shadows cannot scream. The most the bird’s shadow can do is extend beyond the cage. So, let’s look at the description of the bird’s cage: But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage The cage is “narrow”, and the bird “can seldom see through” it. The bird ...


2

The difference is based in grammar. The capitalised terms fall into two groups. There are the straightforward nouns, 'Rock' and 'River' etc preceded by an indefinite article, 'A' and which can be taken as single examples of their class, but there are also Definite Generics where the singular noun represents the whole class or category, you can have 'A Rock' ...


1

The poem tells of sadness, loss, seeking maternal comfort. You are very observant to have noticed its masterly use of colors both in parallel and in contrast to each other. From the first stanza we immediately know something is wrong. "She", presumably a young girl, corresponding to "mothering", is depicted to be running. And that running ...


1

There is a beautiful parallelism between the fourth lines of each stanza: white tears icicle gold plains of her face, rime of alien dreams befrosts her rich brown face, threats of northern winds die on the desert’s face. The "white tears" that "icicle", the "rime", and the "threats of northern winds" all are ...


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