Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014)

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Among her volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (Random House, 1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.

In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East, and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. She accepted a lifetime appointment in 1981 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, “On The Pulse of the Morning,” at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton at his request.

The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries “Three Way Choice.” She has also written and produced several prize-winning documentaries, including “Afro-Americans in the Arts,” a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Maya Angelou was twice nominated for a Tony award for acting: once for her Broadway debut in Look Away (1973), and again for her performance in Roots (1977).

Maya Angelou passed away in 2014.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by Maya Angelou

31 Comments

  1. aamir mahmood awan says:

    it goes without saying that woman work is a best piece of art.

  2. Mohammad Amin Babar says:

    The most simple chores of domestic women have been beautified in such a way that the word picture becomes an exquisite piece of art.Maya resorts to nature, the only power that, she believes, can free a person imprisoned in the drab and dreary life of monotonous routine work.She emphatically calls nature to rescue her from her tiresome job. She knows the fact that it is nature that she can call her own.Maya developes a relationship with nature to cool her down and sooth her tired body.

  3. Aleena Saif says:

    her life. It is a poem that affects our imagination and goes on haunting our thoughts. She feels completely exhausted and wants to be rescued by nature. She wants to feel lost in the wonders of nature. She says that women are uncomplaining and dutiful individuals. The fact of the matter is that they perform such works to make the lives of their dear ones comfortable, enjoyable, and less burdensome.

  4. tanweer says:

    very beautiful poem. Ilike it very much as it talks about the power of women

  5. matthias says:

    Where do you think this poem is set?

    Pls awnser me

  6. mubashar ayub says:

    plz send me main idea of this poem

  7. kanwal says:

    please send me explanation of this poem and main idea of this poem

  8. Azca rObert says:

    awesome poem wow

  9. adnan says:

    Maya Angelou is that kind of poet .that u can not compare any other.Her description of on woman life is very impressive.When i read this poem (woman work)i feel the individually life of a woman .Madam Maya Angelou express the problem of the lack of time any kind of hose lady in very simple and vast meanings words.I like it to much .From Ch adnan taqi Pakistan

  10. Barirah says:

    Focussing on women’s role as mother and wife, Maya superbly highlights the burden of duties under which women are suppressed. Like an ox, working from dawn till dusk she has to follow a fix schedule having no time to enjoy. Having no identity of her own, she is not an individual but only a mother or wife. Since there is no one around that can save her from the drudgery in which she is surrounded she invokes nature, the ultimate saviour of oppressed, to come and save her so that she can REST!

  11. LIZZIE says:

    This poem is amazing because of the fact she has so much power and
    determindation, it brillant to see a women like Maya Angelou writing a poem
    like this! It’s also singficant that in the first stanza its all breathe
    taking because its like a list but after the first stanza she seems to be
    more relaxed and the thng what keeps her moving is nature itself because
    she doesnt own anything in this poem and i find this truely amazing that
    she has and also will be the greatest poets! By the way, im only 15 so if
    i’ve undersood anything wrong please let me know. But i love Maya’s poem
    and im sure many more people agree!
    I was at work & got tired of just thinking of all that has to be done when
    I get home. I decided to google you & I have to say your poem has
    brightened my day! My kids are awesome & I really don’t mind doing anything
    for them but your poem made me smile at all that we actually do in a day.
    Once again Ms. Maya you have lifted a woman’s spririts. May God Bless You &
    Heaven Smile Upon You.
    ANYONE ELSE WHO WRIITES ON THIS WALL PLEZZZ PLEZZ WRITE A SHOUT OUT TO ME…LIZZIE L. H. IT WOULD BE AWESOME!! JUST WRITE LIZZIE L. H. IS AWESOME!!!

  12. lizzie says:

    i love this poem

  13. salim khan says:

    Dear all, please send me difficult words of Women Work,by maya angelou.on my email greatdajee2yahoo.com.
    Thanks all

  14. C.Ann says:

    SAVVAS, i believe that Maya uses the first stanza with a rhyme pattern of AABBCCDD, etc. because during that stanza it’s showing a list of her everyday duties and the predictable structure of it. In the 4 stanzas that follow it are free verse. Those stanzas are explaining her wanting of a break from her everyday duties, to let nature set her free. it’s wrote in free verse to show, just that, she wants to be free. free from her responsibilities for some time. It’s very cleaver that she wrote it that way.

  15. SAVVAS says:

    nice poem but you used two different styles why?
    how were you inspired to write this poem? where were you when you wrote it?

  16. norine says:

    I wanted you to know how much your poetry has influenced my life and encouraged me through tough times, and in good times it has inspired me. You see I am Bipolar and that can be very rough but in my darkest hours i turn to God, Prayer and Your Poetry. I would also like you to know that I am a white woman who very proudly calls you her favorite inspirational poet who inspires all races of both men and women. My sincerest
    gratitude and please continue to write prolifically.

  17. CORNELIA says:

    I was at work & got tired of just thinking of all that has to be done when I get home. I decided to google you & I have to say your poem has brightened my day! My kids are awesome & I really don’t mind doing anything for them but your poem made me smile at all that we actually do in a day. Once again Ms. Maya you have lifted a woman’s spririts. May God Bless You & Heaven Smile Upon You.

  18. arbrion says:

    I LOVE THIS POME I ALSO DID THIS POEM IN THE 4TH GRADE AND WON 3RD PLACE BECAUSE I WAS A LITTLE SHY BUT I TRULY LOVE YOUR POEMS

  19. Chitara says:

    Maya Angelo u are the best!! i was sitting down reading poems and some how i stop to read yours, so i picked the one i care for the BEST!! and Woman Work was one, i thought about my mother doing all the work in our house hold and many things she does to put food on the table.well any ways i really enjoyed the poem
    u really help me really under stand many things.im giving u my best friend e-mail because i dont have one but if u di write back she will let me know,because she knows i look up 2 u.. Bye-bye and by the way u are very beauful To me Truly!! (Chitara)Baton Rouge LA
    Kenil worth middle School!!

  20. Dyala says:

    my opinion to this poem is it a poem based on something true that most housewives have to do no matter what other circumstances are.no matter how much you try to get away from the routines you end up having to do it because its a pattern in your life.

  21. R says:

    This poem not only critisizes the situation of women, but rejoices in the power of women to overcome the tasks they are often burdened with. The speaker may not exactly be looking forward to completing her work, but she certainly does not let herself become bogged down by her responsibilities. THIS is the lesson Maya Angelou is sending. It is not feministic, but universal. We all have our jobs to do, but it is in our ability to recognize the LIGHT in them that we can truly shine.

  22. ashley says:

    this poem tells us that women all over the world have more work then men. the way she deliever this poem shows plethora of emotion… do any one agree with me?

  23. ginger says:

    her words are felt in my heart and the simplicity is a breath of fresh air. knowing someone understands makes my path a little smoother. Thank you Maya Angelou.

  24. Rob says:

    Im studying this poem for my GCSEs and i know how women are treated. I think that this poem shows that perfectly. It shows that she has a very mundane and monotonous life, how like she is trapped in a vortex that will never end. It goes around and around like a wheel. Women still need to do work like her as well. It may not be such a huge issue now because women can work and they couldnt back when the poem was set. Either way this is a touching poem that hopfully inspires a lot of people. I particullaly like the like stanza 2-5 where it shows that she is appealing to nature. I hope this message helps you.

  25. yelly says:

    and the reason why I so love the work of Maya Angelou is the simplicity of the prose and the quickness of the words. I love this poem…even as an oldest child in my household, I have had to do many many things to run the house as a child….I identify completely.

  26. abi says:

    I BELIVE EVERY WOMAN SHOULD READ THIS POEM.MAYA IS A VERY BRILLIANT WOMAN.I READ THIS POEM, JUST LIKE I SEE MYSELF IN THE MIRROR.IT’S LIKE A WOMAN’S JOB NEVER ENDS.WE ARE ALWAYS SO BUSY DOING SOMETHING EVERY SINGLE DAY. I SEE MYSELF SAYING EVERY NIGTH “THANK GOD FOR CREATING NIGH TIME FOR RESTING OR ELSE WE WOULD HAVE BROKEN DOWN.”

  27. nayana says:

    it has a feministic touch

  28. Tammy Simms says:

    Excellent!

  29. Kim Adams says:

    In reading this poem, it really sums it up for me that women have alot of “hats”. We carry alot of weight but yet, our journey never ends. From sunrise to sunset, we work at many things and control our presence. I encourage every woman to read Ms. Angalou’s poems for not just inspiration but also for realization of who you really are and why “you are worth more than rubies.”

  30. Nat Fearnley says:

    I think that Maya Angelou is a very inspirational and heartful writer who has tons of soul which she pours into her writing. She deserves every award available!

  31. A simple girl says:

    It really tellsabout woman and stuff. I think that it shows how much all wokmen rally so and that it’s not so easy.

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