Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

1577 Words Aug 11th, 2013 7 Pages
“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou is an inspiring poem which embraces such a strong message of Maya Angelou being proud of whom she is that all women ought to read over and over again. Maya Angelou (1928) is a talented African American. She mostly writes from experience, and this poem falls perfectly in that category. First published in 1978, “Phenomenal Woman” is an anthem of women's strength in their own womanhood. It tells us about how the inner beauty makes a woman respected by the others. The persona in this poem is a strong, confident woman going against society’s conformist standard of beauty. Lyman B. Hagen states, "The woman described is easily matched to the author herself. Angelou is an imposing woman - at least six feet tall. …show more content…
By asserting that men cannot touch her "inner mystery"- symbolized her confidence, she implies that there is a beauty or a magic to women that men are incapable of fully understanding. In this poem, every stanza ends with the repetition of the word “phenomenal” with these sentences: "I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."
This use of repetition and structure makes the poem flow and like a song. Each stanza is built, hits its peak, and then slowly lets you back down into the next stanza. Angelou’s attitude is that no one is going to define beauty for her; she defines her own beauty and that is what makes her phenomenal, make her completely happy with who she is. The word “phenomenal” is repeated to emphasize that precious thing in that woman. The poet’s use of the word ‘phenomenal’ may seem quite exaggerative but it is not meant as exaggeration. It is sincerely used in order to suggest the poet’s power as a woman. For the whole poem, these lines make a strong impression on me: “Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.”
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When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.”
I especially like the line about the speaker not bowing her head. Though the obvious meaning of holding her head high is a physical expression of her sense of pride, Angelou may also be suggesting that the speaker is not "bowing" to men, or it can be simply considered as the refusal to submit to men's authority. When Angelou writes
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