Phenomenal Women vs. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

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The two poems Phenomenal Women and Still I Rise were written by a phenomenal woman Maya Angelou. The poem Still I Rise was written in 1978 while Phenomenal Woman was written in 1995. This essay intent to compare and contrast the two poems, and describe some of the literacy techniques that Angelou used to convey a meaning and create a style in the two poems.

Phenomenal Women is a free verse poem with rhymes and rhythms. The poem is classified as a short poem because it has only for stanzas with each stanza containing 15 lines. In the poem Phenomenal Women, Angelou has made a powerful choice of words and used a lot of figurative languages. Secondly, in this poem, she sounds so confident with herself wherein the third stanza second line she says,

“Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.”

Throughout this poem, Angelou is presenting a woman who exists not to please a man but a proud and confident woman about herself. Additionally, the women in this poem are not confident simply because she is pretty, but because she is a woman who is a treasure herself. She says,

“It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.”

On the other hand, in the poem Still I Rise a lyric poem, where it addresses the reader and portray Angelou feelings. The poem has eight stanzas with each stanza having seven lines apart from the last stanza which has twenty-seven lines. Angelou word choice in the poem is so emotional where she has addressed those who would like to see her feel bad about herself. The poem is about being proud of who you are and where you come from. The title of the poem gives a strong sense of entity and power. According to the poet, she already understands the strong lies that lie in his stories and thus she is beyond oppression and lies. She says in the first stanza the last line,

“Like dust, I’ll rise.”

In comparing the two poems, it is clear that they have so much in common apart from being written by the same poet. Firstly, the two poems are talking about the fact that she is confident with her body irrespective of others failing to see it. Secondly, the two poems are demonstrating the need for being a strong African woman. To demonstrate these similarities, the author has used an emotional and powerful choice of words.

On the other hand, some of the differences in the two poems are; in the Poem Phenomenal Woman, Angelou has used words that make her look so confident compared to the words used in the poem still I Rise.

Some of the literary techniques used in the two poems includes firstly, there is the use of metaphor wherein the second stanza, the tenth line of the Phenomenal Woman, she says, “it’s the fire in my eyes” while in still I Rise, she says in line 41, “I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide.” Secondly, there is the use of repetition in the two poems wherein Phenomenal Woman, she repeats the “That’s me,” and “I rise” in the poem still I Rise. The use of these literacy techniques impacted me as a reader by creating a poetic text which is more interesting to read that other forms of text.

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  1. Angelou, Maya. Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women. New York: Random House, 1994.
  2. Angelou, Maya. Still I Rise. Four Poems Celebrating Women. New York: Random House, 1978.
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