Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cowper’s poem Essay

Both poets use rhetorical questions in their poems. Angelou says, ‘Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? † Meaning that this was the image that white people thought blacks should look like. People are expecting Angelou to fail and be miserable. Cowper’s use of rhetorical question was more hymn like and gave a vivid image of the situation. The question was, ‘ Why did all creating nature make the plant for which we toil? ‘ However it does get the reader to think about the asked question. Cowper’s poem is very hesitant because there were obviously aspects of slavery, which were too crude to talk about. Slavery was still legal at the time so being hesitant was because he could indeed get into serious trouble for broadcasting slavery in such a negative attitude, whereas Angelou’s poem is defiant, challenging and bold. This attitude of the poem is very much like the poet who wrote it. The tone of Cowper’s poem is full of anger and questions the rights of slavery, whereas the tone of Angelou’s poem is generally positive, confident and assertive. An example of Cowper’s anger would be when he says, â€Å"Prove that you have human feelings, ere you proudly question ours. † This suggests that Cowper is asking the slave traders to think about how the black slaves are being treated and asks them if they feel the pain, which slaves go through. An example of Angelou being confident would be the line which says, â€Å"You may trod me in the very dirt but still like dust I’ll rise. † This says that Angelou remains positive and confident even though the path ahead looks dismal. The poems are structured as follows: Angelou’s poem is written in different stanzas, each containing four lines. Lines two and four rhyme and therefore, create a great sense of rhythm. The final stanza in ‘Still I Rise’, changes structure. Angelou uses repetition, she constantly stresses the point that she still rises by using the name of the actual poem, ‘Still I Rise’ to emphasize the point. The structure of Cowper’s poem, ‘The Negro’s Complaint’ is also similarly written in four line stanzas, but is much longer and complex and written to inspire others to believe in the immortality of the slave trade. Lines one and three rhyme and then lines two and four rhyme. The rhythm in this poem does not differ and remains constant throughout, unlike ‘Still I Rise’. A large difference in the two poems is the language used within. Angelou’s poem is written by using a number of abbreviations, such as: † ’cause and diggin'†. This suggests a deep south American accent and was a typical language used in America at the time of this poem. Cowper, however, uses archaic language like using the words, ‘ye and hark’. This gives the reader a picture of the timescale. Both poets use a number of poetic devices. Angelou uses metaphors, similes and personification. An example of a metaphor in this poem is when she says, â€Å"I’m a black ocean. † This is saying that Angelou is a black ocean and therefore, vast and powerful. The simile that she uses is, ‘But still, like dust I rise,’ Angelou thinks she is like dust. Her use of personification is, â€Å"ocean, leaping,† the ocean has been given a human characteristic. Cowper doesn’t use comparative language like Angelou, so no metaphors or similes are present. Cowper does however, use personification, he says, â€Å"raging billows,† this creates a very vivid image in your mind of the ferocious waves. Both poems’ personification refers to the seas, this is just another of the similarities between the two poems. Cowper was a son of a Rector and therefore, educated in religion. We realise his use of his knowledge when Cowper comments on, â€Å"blood extorted screws,† this is obviously referring to Jesus, and compares his torture, to the slaves torture and we can imagine the pain caused. Cowper’s poem is depressing at times; this may be due to the childhood he had faced. Cowper’s mother died when he was only six years of age and was a victim of bullying at school. Later in life he was called to the bar before attempting suicide. Cowper’s childhood may have influenced the angry tone of the poem, ‘The Negro’s Complaint. ‘ On the other hand, Angelou was born into a black family and suffered just as much pain as Cowper, if not more. Even though the slave trade had been previously abolished, the black and white people were, nevertheless separated from each other. Angelou had received her fair share of racial comments over the past but still remained powerful and took no notice. This later helped Angelou on her road to success and she became the first black lady to drive a tram. As the time progressed she also became the first black director in America. This success was really all down to Angelou’s power to overcome things. This knowledge of Angelou’s past would have influenced the contrast of the positive and negative aspects apparent in her poem. The message, which is presented in, ‘Still I Rise,’ is that you can never keep a strong lady down. Racist comments and abuse just fly in one ear and come out the other, not remaining in her head long enough to be dwelled on. The message given in, ‘The Negro’s Complaint,’ is that he wants the reader to understand the uncivic and inhumane aspects of the slave trade and he generally questions the rights of the slaves. Overall, I prefer, ‘Still I Rise. ‘ In a rather clever way, it presents the personality of the poet through her writing. The tone of which she writes is so much alike the person she is, and I admire her for the way she rose no matter what happened. I also admire Cowper for writing in the eyes of a Negro. It must have proven difficult to write from another viewpoint whereas Angelou writes from her own experiences.

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