Period 4: Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

 

        The poem I have chosen is “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. I have chosen this poem because it is meaningful, as are all of Angelou’s poems, and because it is full of literary devices such as conflict, simile, and imagery, just to name a few. “Still I Rise” possesses great examples of each literary device while not distracting the reader from the essence of the poem.
        Conflict is one of the literary devices found in Maya Angelou’s famous poem. The poem in its entirety is an example of conflict. In this poem, Maya uses external conflict in “man vs society” form. It is a poem about a woman who feels she, as a woman, has all the right to be liberated as any man does. She is a woman who demands respect from the men and women who look at her and think she isn’t acting “how a woman should.” She’s rebellious but not in an obnoxious sense, it is made clear all she wants is to be treated with respect and as an equal. She wants to do what she wants without being judged and is unapologetic with her pursuit for deference and honor. She is a woman who expects the freedom she knows she is entitled to. But while she is being a free-spirit, people who don’t appreciate her “new school” attitude are trying to bring her down. This is an example of external conflict because she’s fighting for her place in the world as a liberated woman and the more traditional men, and some women alike, aren’t ready to make such a transition and she’s having to almost force the change on them while taking criticism for it.
        Another literary device found in “Still I Rise” is simile. Maya uses simile throughout the poem to compare how she rises against the criticism she receives from more traditional people for being what they perceive as “wild.” “But still, like dust, I’ll rise,” “just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise,” and “you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise” are a few examples of simile in Still I Rise. She’s saying to all her naysayers that no matter what they say or do, she will rise above and remain strong. She wants them to know she will stay true to herself and will change for no one. She feels exalted when she speaks up for herself and is confident in her efforts to gain respect from those who look down on her. She compares all things, which will inevitably literally rise, to her emotionally rising above their negativity as a strong woman who is unaffected by their antagonism. It’s her emotional emancipation from all opposition. By remaining strong and true to her beliefs, she knows she can spark the idea or theory that it’s okay for a woman to be on the same social status as a man. She’s bold and dogmatic but she feels she is fighting for a good cause. It seems she feels she owes it all womankind to fight for them.
        Imagery is another literary device present in Maya Angelou’s poem. She uses imagery to candidly articulate what she knows the critics are thinking and are saying amongst themselves. She’s very blunt in how she talks to them and what she thinks. She wants to let them know she knows they’re staring and talking as she tries to have fun. She makes it clear their hatefulness cannot impose on her fun so she speaks what’s on her mind. She enjoys the shock and likes to break the ice. She simply says what everyone is thinking but in a colorful and imaginative way. One example of imagery used is, “you may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes.” Of course nobody can shoot her with words or cut her with their eyes but it’s puts the image in your head that they are standing there just watching her with disapproving gazes and that they’re speaking ill of her because they don’t condone her attitude or actions. And she’s making it apparent that they aren’t slick and that she sees them. But it’s followed by the aforementioned line, “you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.” Meaning she’s unbothered by their childish nature. Another example is, “Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?” She surely would not have actual diamonds at the “meeting of her thighs” but she’s describing, in her signature witty style, how provocatively she’s dancing as they all watch in disapproval. But she’s telling them she knows what they are thinking and unlike them she tells it like it is and isn’t secretive about it. She’s saying she isn’t preoccupied with their opinions and she will do as she pleases regardless if they detest her chosen actions or not. She wants to be crystal clear that her actions are her prerogative and her liberation ought not be limited just because she’s a woman. So if her dancing causes them to stare and gossip, sobeit, she’s unbothered along as she’s happy.
        Conflict, simile, and imagery are my three favorite literary devices Maya Angelou uses in Still I Rise because of how they work together to not only create the entity and core of what Ms. Angelou is trying to express, which is female liberation, but also because they effectively tie together the story. We can assess that Ms. Angelou’s herself is an individualist who has an undeniably strong core belief in existentialism. I, as a longtime fan of Maya Angelou’s work, could not help but imagine Maya as the woman in the poem because the essence of the words and strong, confident attitude reminded me of her. Ms. Angelou is no stranger to controversy herself, so to me it seemed that a poem of this caliber had to have been written with such character because it was written from her own personal experience. This poem could apply to most modern day women but upon reading, I can only hear Maya’s strong, undaunted voice. All of Maya’s attributes, such as fearlessness and courage, are applied to the character. And she, like her poem’s character, is a fighter.

To An Athlete Dying Young

To An Athlete Dying Young by A. E. Housman, is a poem expressing an opposing view than most people have towards dying young.  In this poem dying young is portrayed as a good thing, even lucky because the author, who seems to be a friend of a deceased athlete, says that accomplishments happen early in a persons life and it’s better to die in glory of youth then to rest too long on your laurels only to see them fade away, and forgotten.  The author used many literary devices to get this story across clearly, but the main three are: personification, structure, and alliteration.

           There is personification used throughout the entire poem, Housman give inanimate things and objects human ability.  Such as in line 16 “After earth has stopped the ears:”  The earth does not stop our eyes from working, but he is referring to how when we die we can no longer live, and we don’t decide when we die it’s a higher being in this case referred to as earth.  Another example of personification in this poem is in line 21, “and the name died before the man.” Obviously a name can not “die” but the author is referring to his name not being remembered when he dies, it is lost.
Another literary device used in this poem is structure.  The structure for this poem is made up of rhyme and meter.  It uses a AA BB rhyme scheme, which gives off the feel of then and now.  Like that was then, but this is what is happening now.
One of the last main literary devices used in this poem is alliteration, this isn’t used that much in the poem but it is noticeable.  One example of personification in this poem is in line 22, “The fleet foot on the sill of shade”.  This has the repetition of the letter f revealing alliteration.
Overall this poem is a pretty well written poem, in terms of its literary devices.  The devices used definitely went hand in hand making the poem more understandable and interesting to the reader.  It also got the underlying message across about life, that the author was trying to reveal.

Class Period 4: Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost (Stephanie human)

“Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
By Robert Frost
The poem “Nothing Gold can Stay” by Robert Frost is one of a deep theme, rhythmic rhymes, and allusion. He uses these literary elements to let the reader really get a feel of what Frost is trying to say and how he wants the reader to feel and what mood he is trying to set with saying “nothing gold can stay.”

As the reader, hearing nothing gold can stay you get the sense that he is talking about the beauty of life and the innocence of everything that is life. With that being said, as he says, “nothing gold can stay” it clues the reader in to the fact that hes comparing nature to beauty and how everything loses its beauty after a while. Everything loses its innocence once it has been touched by fault. As proved by line 4, “but only so an hour.” The hour of time is like a symbol for fault and the darkness around everything beautiful. As soon as fault or “an hour” passes by something beautiful and innocent, it changes. This is also shown in line 6 by Frost stating that “.. Eden sank to grief.” The Garden of Eden is symbolic of Christ and his pureness and innocence and everything beautiful until sin or fault passes through and ruined everything.

With the rhyme scheme that Frost keeps to he allows the reader a very fluid, and flowing poem. Every line is a couplet with the line after and clearly defineshghghg each thought this way.  “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold,” lines 1 and 2. allow let’s the reader see that not only is there rhyme but allows the reader to flow from one couplet to the next.

“So Eden sank to grief,” line 6, is an example of the literary term allusion. Allusion being a reference to some known work or known thing. Eden coming from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Everyone knows this story because Eden and the first two humans are commonly known references in our lives. Preferences that allude to the beauty of life that we see everyday but also the corruptions and faults see experience and go through as well.

Robert Frost is a brilliant man who implants vision and wisdom into his poem’s readers in a way that some poets only hope to capture. With his use of the literary elements, he brings his readers to a new level of poetic excellence.

4th period Jabberwocky

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:

Long time the manxome foe he sought –

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

In Jabberwocky, a poem by Lewis Carrol, the author uses fantasy to evoke imagery. He also uses onomatopoeias and dialogue to add to this imagery and create a monster that we in this world, do not know.

Imagery is used by creating a moster called the Jabberwocky, that has “The jaws that bite and claws that catch”. He also sets up what the monster look like as he is walking towards the boy. An example of this is “And, as in uffish thought he stood,The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!” He also uses this imagery to set up how the boy slays the jabberwocky. He uses the blade as imagery as it slices through the monster; “One, two! One, two! And through and through; The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head; He went galumphing back.

The next literary element that carrol uses Onomatopoeias to emphasize the monster’s gait, the slaying of the jabberwocky, and the boy as he comes back with the jabberwocky’s head. The onomatopoeia that carrol uses to describe the monster’s gait is “Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!”. Whiffling emphasizes the sound the jabberwocky makes as he passes the brush and the wind going around him. While, burbling describes the sound the monster is making while walking. The next one he uses is the sound of the sword chopping off the jabberwocky’s head, “Snicker-snack”. And the last one is the sound of the boy joyfully going back to town “galumphing”.

The last literary element carrol uses is dialogue, even though the person speaking is never directly stated. Who ever it is speaking to the boy is  joyous that he has slain the jabberwocky. And at the beginning this same person warns him about how dangerous the monster is.

All of these literary elements come together to create a poem that is full of fantasy and images that captivate the reader.

2nd Period– “The Llama” by Hilaire Belloc

There are three literary elements in Hilaire Belloc’s poem, “The Llama.”   The poem uses consonance, simile, and personification to describe the llama and show how the author feels about it.

Consonance is used throughout the poem; an example can be found in lines 9 to 11.  In these lines, the “l” sound is repeated, such as in the words “Llama,” “Lord,” “beautiful,” “valuable,” “latter,” “loveable,” “useful,” and “least.”   This repetition of the “l” sound emphasizes both the positive traits of the Llama, and the negative traits of the Lord.  It places emphasis on those lines in general, making them stand out from the rest of the poem, because the rest of the poem does not use this literary element.  This consonance helps the reader remember the poem more easily, and flows better when read, as well.

The author, Belloc, also makes use of simile in line 3, with “The Llama…with an indolent expression and an undulating throat, like an unsuccessful literary man.”  This comparison gives the reader a description as to what the llama looks like, and adds on to the poem’s imagery and descriptions.  It also may personify the llama a bit, with it being compared to a person.

An example of personification can be found in line 2, “With an indolent expression and an undulating throat.”  Llamas are not humans, and so, can not truly have expressions in the same way a human can, at least, not in a way humans are familiar with.  Human readers are human, however, and can more easily relate to human characteristics and descriptions than to inanimate imagery.  Poetry uses personification to familiarize the subject with the reader.

Literary elements are used in poetry to communicate an idea, image, ect, to whatever is reading the poem. Each element serves to assist the reader, and the way the author or poet uses them determines the quality and emotional connection held with the work.

2nd Period – “Homework” by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Homework” utilizes several literary elements to convey a message of political, economical, and military unrest in the international realm.  Ginsberg especially relies on the use of allusion, metaphor, and creative diction to manipulate the reader’s perspective to understand his meaning.

The most noticeable aspect of Allen Ginsberg’s “Homework” is the extended metaphorical theme.  Ginsberg uses the common routine of doing one’s laundry to portray the greater, more complex state of the world.  “If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran” (line 1).  Throughout the poem, the simple chore of doing laundry is ironically compared to the impossible solution to all of the world’s problems.  Ginsberg suggests that the world today is a very dirty place in need of a good cleaning and uses the scenario of doing laundry to convey the large-scale complexity of the modern global picture.

Parallel to Ginsberg’s use of extended metaphor is his obvious use of allusion.  Ginsberg uses the metaphor to allude to more specific issues in the global community.  For example, when Ginsberg says “I’d wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico” (line 4), he is making a reference to the pollution caused by travelers’ and the oil industry’s presences in these areas of the world.  When Ginsberg says he’d wash his “dirty Iran” and that he’d throw in the United States, he’s alluding to the all-around sketchy relationship between Iran and the United States.  Ginsberg says he’d “Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out” (line 14), he is referencing how the Cold War and the spread of Communism around the USSR and China have affected our modern world and lives.

The creative diction found in “Homework” is also effective in manipulating the reader’s reaction to the poem and its themes.  For example, Ginsberg lightens the overall mood of the poem when he throws in onomatopoeia like “Rub a dub dub” (line 6), or simile like “Bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow” (lines 10 & 11).  Ginsberg also uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, to portray the complexity of the global situation when he says to “put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean” (lines16 & 17).

As a whole, Allen Ginsberg uses several literary elements to portray and symbolize a greater message.  “Homework” represents the intricate network of the issues that the modern world faces, specifically political issues and the effects of pollution on the environment.

Anthem for Doomed Youth 2nd Period Allison G.

                                                        Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

                                                – Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

                                                Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

                                                Can patter out their hasty orisons.

                                                No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

                                                Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –

                                                The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

                                                And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

                                                What candles may be held to speed them all?

                                                Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes

                                                Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

                                                The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

                                                Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

                                                And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

        Wilfred Owen wrote this poem in September through October in 1917 during World War I. He was recovering from shell shock of inCraiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh when inspiration struck him. Before entering the war, Owen aspired to be a poet and dabbled some, but wrote nothing of significance until serving in the military. His poem, “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” conveys the hopelessness he saw on the faces of the young trench soldiers. The indifference present on the field as one by one they are massacred is also depicted. Owen painted this bitter apathy using personification, alliteration, and metaphors within his sonnet, eliciting raw responses from his readers.

        The guns in this poem take on malefic qualities through personification, such as monstrous anger. Instead of being just merely inanimate weapons, they mock the dead’s passage by making foul the sincere rites. The shells create “demented choirs” that wail in lieu of church choirs with “any voice of mourning.” The bugles call to the dead across the “sad shires” or England’s counties. The guns take place of the passing-bells, and the prayers over the deceased are stuttered out by “rifles’ rapid rattle.”

        As previously stated, alliteration is prevalent within the poem’s lines. The “rifles’ rapid rattle” gives the sense of being rushed and distinct “shots” within the line. It helps paint the image of the dying man being “watched over” by fellow doomed youth shooting away funeral rites. While that is the most obvious example in the poem, alliteration is speckled in the stanza. “Drawing-down,” “glimmers of goodbyes,” and “sad shires” are all instances of alliteration from the poem.

        But the biggest literary device present in the poem is metaphor. Owen compares the traditional symbols of funeral rites and mourning to the indifferent symbols of war. The guns were the passing-bells meant to honour the dead. The rifle shots were the sound of funeral prayers. The shells’ wailing were the church choirs singing the traditional hymns. Everything sacred, holy, and compassionate about how to treat the dead was compared to the harsh reality of battlefields.

      The general indifference shown in this poem toward the dead was Owen’s attempt at pathos. He was trying to tug on his readers’ heart strings so they could put a stop to the senseless fighting. This antiwar stance is what spurred his other pieces and why this poem has been etched into our literature’s history. The haunting rhymes leave you craving peace and pitying the doomed youth’s march to suicide.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.