“Poem 1” ‘Still I Rise’by Maya Angelou

“Poem1”: ‘StillI Rise’byMaya Angelou

“Poem 2”: ‘Poppies’byMaryOliver

Poetryis a rich artistic work that incorporates various literary devicesand formats in delivering the author’s hidden message. Inparticular, poetry and poetics utilize various structural formats,rhythmic and aesthetic language to evoke various interpretations ofthe poems. In some cases, conventions and forms are used to enhanceprosaic interpretation of tone and words used as well as elicitingemotive feelings to the reader.Ideally, a good poem is made up ofintegrated devices such as alliteration, assonance and rhythm tobring about the incantatory effect desired.The poem ‘I still Rise’by Maya Angelouand ‘Poppies’ by Mary Oliver have distinct comparable poeticfeatures. In particular, the theme, the format structure, tone,language and stylistic devices used are similar. The &quotPoem 1&quot&quotand &quotPoem 2&quot share a similar theme of redefinedpersonality and use a sombre yet melodic tone to express theirfeelings.

Comparingtone, format, themeand stylistic device used in the two poems

Themeand tone

Thetwo poems depict a theme of redefined personality and development. In‘poem 1’ the speaker appears determined to make life have moremeaning despite been unloved. For instance, in the first stanza, thethree introductory sentences help to bring this assessment, theauthor says, ‘Youmay write me down in history….Youmay tread me in the very dirt…But still, like dust, I`ll rise’(Mayastanza 1). Likewise in ‘poem 2’ the author also shares the sametheme of blossoming personality by comparing her life with a poppyflower, light and a ‘shiningmiracle’ (Oliver).This idea can be understood from the writer says phrases like, ‘butI also say this: that light is an invitation…to happiness,’(Oliverstanza 6)andin another line she says ‘touchedby their rough and spongy gold, I am washed and washed in the riverof earthly delight, (Oliverstanza8).The two poems have been written in a light melodic tone thatkeep shifting through the use of short and long sentences in the twopoems.

TheCharacter in the two poems

Thereare relationship between the character of the speakers in ‘poem 1’and ‘poem 2.’ The characters tend to exhibit their personality asa sign of changed status. For instance, in ‘poem 1’ the writersays, ‘Doesmy sassiness upset you…Does my haughtiness offend you?’(Maya,stanza5&amp6).The character wants to express their personality as seen by others byasking these questions. She is concerned if her personality offendothers and beseeches the audience not to take her personality hard,she says, ‘Don’tyou take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I`ve got gold mines…’(Maya stanza6). Similarly, the character in ‘poem 2’ is explaining about herchanged personality. This is evident in the general symbolism messageof a flaring orange poppy. The issue of a changed personality is seenin stanzasix where the author says, ‘ButI also say this: that light….is a kind of holiness…palpable and redemptive,’ paragrapheight,‘I am washed and washed in the river of earthly delight,’(Oliver).

Structuralformat of the two poems

Thetwo poems apply the 21stcentury quatrain structure. Although two poems appear to have thequatrain format four lines per stanza, this structure looselyfollowed in the last stanzas.The two poems do not have iambicpentameter that is observable. The two poems have a freestyle formatin the way short, and long lines are mixed in all stanzas. The twoauthors appear to be experimenting with the quatrain structureplayfully as they relate their poems to the origin of modern poeticstructure.


Thereis an attempt of rhyming in the two poems. In ‘poem 1’ forinstance, there are rhymes of the consonant sound in the firststanza,first and second sentences.Repetition of the consonant sound such as,‘yo,’‘ju’ ‘do’and ‘I’is evident throughout the poem. In a similar way, ‘poem 2’ hasconsonant rhyming of ‘bl’ sound in the phrase, ‘black,curved blade’ (Oliver).


Rhythmhas been used repeatedly but irregularly in the two poems. Forinstance, in ‘poem 1’ the words ‘does’‘just’‘youmay’and ‘Irise’have been repeatedly used throughout the poem. In the same measurerhythm is also partially used in the poem as depicted in therepetition of words, ‘washed’and ‘happiness’(Oliver).

Stylisticdevices used in the two poems


Imageryhas been used in the two poems. In the first poem ‘poem 1’ theauthor use imagery in a rather humors way. For instance in the sixthparagraph the speaker says, ‘You may cut me with your eyes,’ thisapplication of symbolic imagery which gives the reader a clearpicture of the speakers feelings. This imagery is repeated in thefirst sentence of the paragraph where she says, ‘youmay shoot me with yours words’ (Maya,stanza 6).Inthe same note, the author in ‘poem 2’ has used imagery. In thefirst stanza, the author says, ‘Thepoppies send-up their Orange flares swaying in the wind, theircongregations’ (Oliverstanza 1).In this case, imagery is applied by personifying poppies as humanbeings in congregations.

Personificationand similes

Thetwo poems have an integrated use of personification. Personificationis used to give a deeper meaning of the issue addressed. In mostcases, personification is a poetic device that is used by authors toenable their audience derive more meaning from the poetic work. Thespeaker in the first poem has repeatedly used personificationthroughout the poem, For instance, in the eighth paragraph the authorwrites, ‘Iam a black ocean, leaping and wide,’ (Maya)by equating herself to the ocean, she wants to illustrate to thegreatness of her personality to the audience. Likewise, shepersonifies the aspect of ocean as a source of unlimited strength. In‘poem 2’ the speaker also utilizes personification she equatespoppies to a rejuvenated personality.

Simileshave been used in the two poems, in the ‘poem 1’ the speakersays, ‘`CauseI laugh like I`ve got gold mines’(Maya, stanza 5). In ‘poem 2’ there is ‘shineslike a miracle’ (Oliver).The use of similes and personification in these two poems is toenhance readers make more connection to meanings. In addition, thesestylistic devices help to entertain by presenting certain thoughts ina humorous way to make the poems more enjoyable and convey deepermeanings.

Symbolismand allusion

Thetwo pieces of poetic work have used symbolism extensively throughoutthe poem. Symbolism is a stylistic device used in a literary work tocreate more meaning to conveyed information. Just like similes,symbolism is used to enhance a wide interpretation of the poems. In‘poem 1’ the author uses a number of symbolisms, ion stanzaeighth she says, ‘Outof the huts of history`s shame…&nbspI rise’ (Maya).This phrase is used to indicate the intensity of shameful feelingsthe speaker has had in the past. In ‘poem 2,’ the speaker alsouses symbolism. For instance, in the last stanza, last sentence, shesays, ‘whatcan you do

aboutit…deep, blue night?(Oliver).This symbolism also indicates the intensity of feelings thespeaker has.


Acomparison of the two poems has vividly indicated that the two poemsshare similarities in their structural formats, theme, tone, languageand the stylistic devices used.Although the two poems, ‘poem 1’and ‘poem 2’do not have a definite quatrain poetic structure,they are in every aspect a reflection of the modern poetry. It isclear that the two poems fail to adopt a standardized structure andinstead that artist uses a combination of quatrain and free stanzastyle of poetry more evident in the mixture of long and shortsentences.

Inthe same note, the stylistic devices used such as similes, symbolism,personification, theme and language indicate their orientation tomodern poetic art. One aspect that stands out is the tendency of thepoets to incline to romanticism poetry. In many ways, the two poemscould fall under the romanticism poetry based on the salient featuresof their structure, stylistic devices used, tone, language and thetheme.


MayaAngelou.‘StillI Rise.’ RandomHouse, Inc. books. 1975.

MaryOliver.‘Poppies.’1992.Accessed from Poemsfor English, BerkeleyCity College