Maya Angelou - Tragedy to Triumph

Maya Angelou is a very triumphant woman. She has written many books and poems that have given her great success. If one would talk to her, he or she would think she has lead a normal, happy life. Her life is blissful now, but it wasnít always perfect. Maya Angelouís sorrowful life experiences inspired her to write autobiographical works of poetry. Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis. She was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She came from a broken home. Angelou was raped at eight, and was an unwed mother at 16 years old (Williams 1). In spite of her tragic childhood, she still managed to become one of the greatest black poets of the twentieth century (Williams 1). Angelou is a poet, an author, a historian, an actress, a playwright, a civil-rights activist, a producer, and a director. Ms. Angelou began her career in drama and dance, and she married a South African freedom fighter and lived in Cairo. Later she also taught in Ghana. In the 1960\'s she said that being black, female, non-Muslim, non-Arab, six foot tall, and American made for some interesting experiences during her stay in Africa (Williams 1). Ms. Angelou accomplished many things in her life. She was the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also appointed to the Bicentennial Commission by President Gerald Ford, the National Commission on the Observance of International Women\'s Year by Jimmy Carter, and in 1993 she wrote and delivered the presidential inauguration for President Bill Clinton. Maya Angelou is a decorated author. She has been nominated for two Emmy awards and has won a Pulitzer Prize. She is also a highly cultured person. She can speak English, French, Spanish, Italian, and West African Fanti. And many of her poems can inspire people today. Knowing something about Angelouís life can help one to understand her poetry. In one of Angelouís poems, "Unmeasured Tempo", she talks about a personís life. How mind and body do not reach their apex at the same time. By the time a person gets old enough to have a spiritual realization of who they are their body is already declining (Angelou 11). This poem is written in blank verse. It does not have any rhyme or rhythm. Yet it does use figurative language. For example, the simile, "Dreams are petted like cherished lap dogs". This poem is complex and makes the reader look for the deeper meaning in the poem (Angelou 11). Another one of Angelouís poems is "Little Girl Speakings" where she once again writes autobiographically. Itís a comparative poem about the things important to Angelou in her childhood. She is explaining to one of her peers that she has the best parents and the best toys(Angelou 65). There are a lot of literary devices used in this poem. The two most obvious ones are slang and repetition. The phrases "Ainít nobody betterís my daddy", "Ainít nothing prettierín my dollie", and "No lady cookinger than my mommy" are repeated in this poem (Angelou 65). The rhyme scheme, ABBA, is simple yet unusual. There are many words that rhyme like quauter and daughter, said and head, and pie and lie (Angelou 65). A third and final poem of Angelouís is " Avec Merci, Mother" ("avec" means "with" in French). This poem uses very simple language, but it is very complicated. The subject seems to change in the middle of the poem. She first talks about her mother being this perfect beauty who was polite and adored. And then it talks about a person who catches her eyes who seems to be her son and then she associates him with his father. This poem is one of Angelouís more difficult works to understand (Angelou 18). This poem doesnít have a lot of literary devices. The rhyme scheme of this poem is ABABCDED. Angelou uses literary devises like similes in the phrase, "Heís so much like his daddy when he cries" (Angelou 18). The style of Maya Angelou can range from complex symbolical ideas to easy, straightforward concepts. Firstly, her style is like a story. Second, the vocabulary is usually easy