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    • POEM: Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou (8/11/2009 11:27:00 PM)

      Actually, I quite disagree with Yacov Mitchenko. I find his response to be lacking validity as well as fairly judgmental.

      First of all - to give some sort of 'outline' as to the discussion of happiness is pure arrogance, what audacity! ! The hypocrisy of your statements is blatantly obvious, you are merely describing a different way to reach a goal. Further, how exactly can you call any poem immoral within an argument about reaching depth within a poem. To take this poem at nothing more than the so-called cliches is similar to declaring an orange too bitter because you would not take the time to peel it.

      It is true that Maya Angelou uses some chiches within this poem. However, when a stanza is approached as a complete thought, a new image is presented. For instance: in the beginning she writes

      'It's in the reach of my arms
      The span of my hips,
      The stride of my step,
      The curl of my lips.'

      Words like 'reach, span, stride, and curl' bring to mind images of mountains, vast open spaces encompassing all your view. This is in direct response to the statement made about the question of where her 'womanly secrets' lie - perhaps to allude to the idea that she hasn't hidden what makes her 'phenomenally woman', but instead displayed it for all to see - impossible to ignore.

      Also, Angelou has done an excellent job using diction to her fullest advantage. Look at the words in this poem: her use of heavy syllables (i.e. lips, hips, curl, arch) followed by full and breathy ones (i.e. swarm, swing, waist, sun) bring to mind the movement of lips while kissing. Interdispersed with statements like 'the ride of her breasts' further call to mind primal sexuality, that unnameable quality of raw femininity that belongs to women alone.

      However she counters this aptly by keeping her statements light and fresh. By calling upon known cliches and using brief descriptions, she keeps the forefront of the poem focused on one of her overall themes - the inherent beauty of woman that can be so obvious yet so mysterious.

      Further, it is important to keep in mind the setting of Maya Angelou's America. Through her writing, Angelou dealt with many issues regarding topics of racism to abuse, womanhood to motherhood, and the essence of family. This is one of the many reasons why she is considered to be a renown black author to this day.

      However, unlike some ethnic authors, Angelou does not blatently call up the images of race. Notice within her poem there is never any comment as to the color of a woman, or the tint of her skin. Though she does not completely leave this history behind - Angelou pays homage to her heritage by echoing the rhythmic beat of the drum in her rhythm, much the same way Shakespeare created and followed his iambic pentameter which has the same rise and fall of many Christian Hymns.

      Overall I do believe that Maya Angelou has done a beautiful job of sculpting language to speak to many without barriers, carry harmonious themes, and channel vague clarity to create a descriptive yet hazy picture of what it is that gives women everywhere that certain quality everyone can see, yet few can name.

      And I do not condone the judgement of poetry upon a numbered scale.