2 Brief SummaryThe first stanza of the poem is a list of chores the mother has to do that day. The shift occurs after the first stanza and she talks about her wish for nature to bring her peace and relaxation. The poem is about the burdens of a woman and her desire for relief.
3 Time Period“Woman Work” was first published in Given that Angelou was born in 1928, had her first child when she was 17, the poem mentions hand picking cotton and mechanised cotton picking became prominent by the late 1960s, it is safe to assume that “Woman Work” takes place in the 1950s in the southern United States.
4 StyleThe style of the poem is closest to Lyric poetry. Exemplified by the lack of action in the poem and the insight it provides into the protagonist’s state of mind.
5 ThemeSome themes brought up in the poem are exhaustion, relentlessness, responsibility, expectation, loneliness, isolation, and relief. The overall message is that to be a woman is to work.
6 ThesisIn “Woman Work” Maya Angelou creates a thankless, stressful depiction of womanhood that is heightened by the structure of the poem itself.
7 Topic Sentences-The first half of the poem conveys hard reality of work through implications and staccato sentences.-The second half demonstrates the desperation for relief by turning to fanciful language and escapism.
8 Work CitedAngelou, Maya. "Woman Work." And Still I Rise. United States: Random House, Print.Bardhan, Shreya. "Woman Work Analysis by Maya Angelou." Beaming Notes. 27 Aug Web. 23 Jan"Maya Angelou." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 23 JanGanzel, Bill. "Cotton Harvesting during the 1950s and 60s." Cotton Harvesting during the 1950s and 60s. 1 Jan Web. 23 Jan"Original Pronunciation." Original Pronunciation. Ed. David Crystal. Web. 23 Jan <http://originalpronunciation.com/>.
9 AP PromptAngelou creates meaning through the contrast of two halves of the poem. The first half lists the literal work that the woman must do. The second half uses figurative language, hyperbole, and anthropomorphization to express the desire for escape or rest. The tone in the first half is quick and joyless. A barrage of neverending tasks that stresses even the reader to think about. The second half conjures an appreciation of nature, but also hints at a desperation for recess from the unending work. A slower reading and breaks in the stanzas help create a reprieve for the reader as well as the woman in question.
10 Annotation Quick, stunted couplets. Minimal syllables. I've got the children to tendThe clothes to mendThe floor to mopThe food to shopThen the chicken to fryThe baby to dryI got company to feedThe garden to weedI've got shirts to pressThe tots to dressThe cane to be cutI gotta clean up this hutThen see about the sickAnd the cotton to pick.Quick, stunted couplets. Minimal syllables.Chores are menial and all encompassing. Manual labour done as well. Principal caregiver.Expected to maintain social customs as well.Multiple kids, no father mentioned. Single mother.Lives in hut, picks cotton. Low economic class.Literal descriptions. Grueling, stressful and constant.
11 Annotation Fall gently, snowflakes Cover me with white Cold icy kisses andLet me rest tonight.Sun, rain, curving skyMountain, oceans, leaf and stoneStar shine, moon glowYou're all that I can call my own.Anthropomorphizing snow. Desire for kisses reflect desire for romantic interest/support.Turning to nature highlights emotional solitude.Her own internal appreciation of nature is all she has. Gives every other aspect of herself to external pressures. Time, energy, food, body, caring, WORK.
12 Annotation Shine on me, sunshine Rain on me, rain Fall softly, dewdropsAnd cool my brow again.Storm, blow me from hereWith your fiercest windLet me float across the sky'Til I can rest again.Change in poem structure.Romanticizing nature. Appealing to non-conscious forces.Ambiguous rhyme structure.Hyperbole.Pauses in poem reflect internal desire for pause from work.
13 AnnotationThe poem is divided into two halves. The first half is a series of couplets describing the work that the woman must do. The second half is four stanzas that are a sort of prayer of respite. An appeal to nature for relief.The first stanza is composed of 7 pairs of couplets. They follow an AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, FF, GG pattern.The second, third, fourth, and fifth stanzas all contain four lines each. At first it appears that the second and third stanzas have no internal rhyme scheme. Each line within the second stanza does not rhyme and each line within the third stanza does not rhyme. The last word of the second and third stanza do however repeat the word “again.” This gives a rhyme scheme of ABCD, EFGD.Although no mention of this was found I propose an alternate reading. If you change the pronunciation of the second and fourth lines of the second and third stanzas you will get more coherent rhyme scheme.
14 Annotation Should be pronounced: Shine on me, sunshine Where:Shine on me, sunshineRain on me, rainFall softly, dewdropsAnd cool my brow again.Storm, blow me from hereWith your fiercest windLet me float across the sky'Til I can rest again.Should be pronounced:Shine on me, sunshineRenn on me, rennFall softly, dewdropsAnd cool my brow again.Storm, blow me from hereWith your fiercest weenLet me float across the sky'Til I can rest ageen.
15 AnnotationThis creates a more internally consistent rhyme scheme throughout the entirety of the poem. Evidence can be seen in the fourth and fifth stanzas. The second and fourth line of both those stanzas have clear rhymes in them. Where “white” is rhymed with “tonight,” and “stone” is rhymed with “own,” correspondingly. When you compare the rhyme scheme of the entire poem it is clear which is the most likely reading.Non-accented Pronunciation:AABBCCDDEEFFGG, xxxH, xxxH, xIxI, xJxJAccented Pronunciation:AABBCCDDEEFFGG, xHxH, xIxI, xJxJ, xKxKWhere (x) = non-rhyming lines.This is objectively the most logical solution as well as a subjectively more pleasing version.
16 AnnotationAdditionally, this pronunciation is consistent with Maya Angelou. Angelou, being born in Missouri had a southern accent and would have written from the perspective of a southern accent. Which is typified by a blurring of vowels. This also reinforces the southern labour aspect of the ‘work’ portion of the poem. An irrefutable picture is painted of a southern African American woman relentlessly working for her family, her home,and her guests. Hardly a moment to herself, save a brief appreciation of nature.Also worth noting is that the occurrence of pronunciation affecting reading is not unique to this instance. Performances of Shakespeare have been put on at the Old Globe theater that use what is called “original pronunciation.” This has opened up new puns and new insight into the plays.