Woman Work Poem by Maya Angelou

Woman Work Poem B.A Part 1

About Poetess | Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou( 1928-2014) was born in Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou's early life had been very miserable and distressed yet she never gave up. Maya's literary career shone at various levels. 

She was an American poet and author. She was called America's most visible black female autobiographies and is famous for her series of six autobiographical volumes, I Know Why the caged Bird Sings, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences.

With over 50 honorary doctorate degrees, Dr. Maya Angelou became a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. 

Angelou's poetry evoked out the themes of individual identity, spiritual solace, faith, family, poverty, and racism which are often used as set texts in schools and universities internationally.

Main Theme or Central Idea of the Poem 

It is generally supposed that America is a paradise on the earth. Her people live a life of glamor and luxury. They are well off and happy. But the lady poet Maya Angelou contradicts this widespread illusion. She exposes the reality of the poor and common American woman.

She is a slave to her routine work. She has been robbed of her real peace and pleasure of life. The primary duty of her being a mother is to look after the children. She takes care of their all needs related to quality food, cleaning them, pressed clothes, and daily baths.

Her other duties are to make arrangements for quality food for her family. She goes to the market for shopping and then cooks the food. Thus she acts as a servant and a cook. Her third important duty is to entertain the guests.

After doing all these works, a housewife feels disgusted and bored with the daily mechanical life. She is sick at heart. She then longs for the company of nature and its various objects like sunshine, rain, windstorm, snow, mountains, moon, and star-shine. 

The basic theme or central idea of the poem is hidden in the last stanza of the poem. where the poetess reveals the need and desires of a tired housewife. She needs the company of nature. She urges the males that they should give leisure time to their women to enjoy their lives according to their wish.

Stanza 1


I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop

Reference

These lines have been extracted from the poem Women Work by Maya Angelou

Context


In this poem, the poetess tells the story of a woman who works day and night. She remains engaged in her domestic chores all day.  She has to perform her duties on various planks in her house. She works like a machine that has no stop from dawn till night. 

Her several responsibilities comprise the cleaning of the house, looking up her kids, preparing meals for the family, tending clothes, purchasing groceries from the market. 

While performing all the tasks, she now gets fed up with her tiring works as she finds no time to relax. But all her domestic duties and responsibilities do not make her dull and pessimistic. 

She intends to return to nature and to be in the company of nature. For this, she invites nature to help her and to soothe her fatigued body. Only nature and its beautiful objects can save her from the drudgery of routine life.

Explanation


In these lines, the poetess describes the life of a domestic woman, whose life is very hard because she has to do a lot of household activities. She has to care for her offspring. She has to repair their clothes. She has to buy food for her family.

It means that she is an active member of her family because she is involved in domestic chores from morning to evening. These lines show her responsible and active nature. She uses assonance( repetition of vowels) in the starting stanza like tend, mend, and mop, shop.

The poem presents the modern mechanical age that has given everything to man but not mental satisfaction and calm.  The language of the poem is very simple but has a pragmatic approach.

Stanza 2


Then chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed

Reference

Same as above

Context

Same as above

Explanation

In these lines, the poetess is counting some of her household duties which she has to perform daily. She has to fry chicken and cook food for the family. She has to bathe, dry, and clothe the babies. She also has to look after a number of guests whom she has to entertain.

She has to look after and take care of the back lawn or the backyard ground, otherwise, the plants there would die away. This is a reaction to the thankless tasks of the household. The poetess has expressed her thoughts about the place of women in our society.

Stanza 3

I've got the shirts to press
The tots to dress
The cane to be cut
I got to clean up this hut

Reference

Same as above

Context

Same as above

Explanation

These lines tell us about a domestic and common woman. Being a responsible member of the family, a domestic woman has to iron the clothes of her family. She has to change the dress of her little children many times a day.

She has to trim the little plants in her house to make them beautiful and attractive because it is her duty to keep the house clean. These lines reflect that woman who gets busy all the time ignoring her aesthetic side of life.

Stanza 4 

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

Reference

Same as above

Context

Same as above

Explanation

These lines express the domestic woman's inner side and inner feelings. She calls the elements of nature for her help because she has got tired after doing a lot of work at home. She beseeched the sun to pour its sunlight on her because its rays are a source of energy.

She calls the rain to fall on her forehead to make her cool because the water of the rain gives freshness to her body and mind. She addresses the dewdrops to fall on her softly and to cool her hot mind. 

The poetess describes the boring condition of a domestic lady. She laments that her domestic busy life has deprived her of the company of sunshine, rain, and dewdrops. She intends to make her warm with sunlight and cool with rain.

Stanza 5

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

Reference

Same as above

Context

Same as above

Explanation

Here the poetess says that a domestic woman is so much fed up with the monotony of her household life that she wants to escape from such a life. She expresses her yearning to be in the company of the objects of nature.

She beseeched the storm to come to her and take her with its intense winds from there so that she may be free for a while from her monotonous routine. She requests the storm to take her from there and leave her across the skies so that she may keep floating there and be satisfied.

The elements of nature provide her perfect rest and peace of mind. The dull and drab routine of her life fails to suppress her creative impulse and disconnect her from the company of nature. She adores the elements of nature and wants to enjoy their company.

Stanza 6

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

Reference

Same as above

Context 

Same as above

Explanation

The poetess has already enumerated the list of her daily assignments being a housewife. Her detail shows that she has been living like a prisoner in her house under the commands of her husband and the demands of her children.

She wants to get herself relaxed with the touch of cold icy wind. The more she is covered gently with the snowflakes, the more she will feel comforted. Her escape into snowfall will give her both shelter and rest. 

Stanza 7

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow 
You're all that I can call my own

Reference

Same as above

Context

Same as above

Explanation

These lines express the wishes of a domestic woman. She wishes to be in the company of natural elements. She is passionate to be among mountains, oceans, leaves, stones, star-shine, moon glow for refreshment. She longs to sit in the company of all these natural objects

She wants to give herself relief from painful and hectic responsibilities. She does not feel happy doing domestic chores. Her life is without any charm and pleasure. Her duties in the house, are very tedious and painful

The use of the word mend, mop, and shop shows her engagement during the day. She works without rest and relaxation. Time has bowed her down to compromise with the dull and dreary life of daily work.

Important  Questions and Answers

Q 1: Why does the working woman in the poem, Woman Work make a passionate appeal to nature?


Ans: Woman Work is a beautiful poem written by Maya Angelou. In this poem, she tells the readers about a serious and important fact about those women who pass their lives in doing house-hold chores.

Such a woman is being represented by the poetess herself. She calls the elements of nature to get freshness from their company. She wants to enjoy the warmth of sunshine and the coolness of rain.

She wants to feel the cool and soft-touch of dew-drops on her face. Fall gently snowflakes, And cover me with White, let me float across the sky, Till I can rest again.

The domestic woman calls the elements of nature because the members of her family do not treat her well. She wishes to be in the company of her past friends like sun, rain, mountain, oceans, leaves, star-shine, moon glow for refreshment and peace of mind.

Mountains, oceans, leaf and stone     Star shine, moon glow
You are all that I can call my own

The poetess has personified different objects of nature to show their importance. Therefore, the household woman wants to enjoy rain, sunshine, mountains, and snowflakes to overcome her monotony and boredom.

She needs a break to refresh herself. She knows that Nature has a healing effect. Between the lines, she is criticizing the male-dominated world. She means that these natural objects are beneficial for all creatures without discrimination. 

Q 2: The poem Woman Work deals with the boredom felt in our daily life and especially of woman. Discuss.

Ans: This poem has been written by Maya Angelou. She is a living poetess. Most of her poetry deals with the problems and status of women in male dominant society. In this poem, she describes the routine life of a domestic woman.

A housewife remains busy in her domestic chores. She performs her all responsibilities without any complaint. But her routine life has made her rebel. She intends to enjoy the company of nature.

She is not satisfied with her family members. She rejects the male dominant society and shows her love for natural objects. She thinks that only nature and its aspects can provide her mental and physical pleasure.

She invokes the natural objects to enjoy rain, sunshine, dewdrops, and gentle flakes of snow. A domestic woman is so much tired of the monotony of her household life that she wants to escape from such a life.

She requests the storm to take her away from her dull and colorless world. She seems to be tired of the daily routine of life. She wants to reach some remote corner of the world where she can enjoy some moments of rest, peace, and pleasure again.

She desires to take a rest for some time in the company of nature. She wishes to fly with a storm wind into the open sky. She wishes to be among mountains, oceans, leaves and stones, starshine, and moonlight. She wants to change her dull and boring life into a charming adventure.




57 Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Pessimistic means to look the dark side of life

      Delete
  2. What is meant NH spiritual solace

    ReplyDelete
  3. Enumerated,prisoner,lamenants,,pargmatix

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enumerated= counted
      Prisoner= captive or arrested
      Lament= mourn
      Pragmatic= practical

      Delete
  4. What is meant by"assignmenis

    52

    ReplyDelete
  5. What is meant by assignments


    52

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Mam g 😋😋😍😍

    ReplyDelete
  7. What is meant by monotony? And beseeched mean?

    ReplyDelete
  8. What is meant by escape and passionate?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mam g monotonous routine ka mtlb bataa dein plz

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Mam g ap ki help ka liya😊😊😊😊

    ReplyDelete

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