Woman Work Analysis: “Woman Work” is a very domestic poem that depicts the typical routine life of a woman performing her daily chores effectively and then yearns for a fantastic break amidst the different elements of nature that tend to give her strength and comfort.
Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.
About the Author of Woman Work (Maya Angelou)
Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist and civil rights, activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.
“Woman Work” was first published in the 1978 collection of Angelou’s poem entitled “And Still I Rise”. The poem itself consists of five stanzas. The first stanza is the longest one with fourteen lines. All the subsequent stanzas are shorter and made up of four lines.
In the poem “Woman Work”, Maya Angelou kept in mind the different works of a woman while composing the poem. It is about their hardships and how they crave to be free from their monotonous strenuous working lifestyles. The poetess feels exceptionally bored and tired after attending her household affairs and thinks that only the natural phenomenon can positively influence her.
A household woman remains busy with her domestic chores; even then, she can enjoy nature through her imagination. This poem is an indirect praise of a woman’s greatness. It is an escape from the drudgery of the mechanical routine and taking shelter in an ideal life.
Summary Of The Poem Womans Work
As a housewife, she has to perform all the household chores and attend to her children, mend their clothes, mop the floor and shop for their meals. She also has to weed off her garden, press shirts, cut canes and clean up her whole house to make it beautiful and appealing.
This is the struggle of her routine, which makes her life very monotonous and prosaic. The woman referred to in the poem is an idealist, and she eagerly wants to go into the lap of nature and get the comfort and relief that she was craving.
She calls forth the sun, the moon, the sky, the cold mountains to take her away from the cacophony and into space so that she can fly without having to think about her neck-breaking routine. She wants to feel the freshness of nature and the natural elements that can stimulate her body and soul, giving her the energy to perform the next day’s household chores.
Detailed Analysis of Woman Work
“I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.”
In the first stanza, the poetess gives vent to her feelings for her dull and busy life. She is tired of her routine work of being a working woman. She says that she has to look after her children at home, clothes to stitch. She has to go grocery shopping and then clean the floor. She has to weed out her garden and shirts to iron. She also has to take care of the sick.
She has to dress her children and also cut bamboos. She has to clean her whole house. All these chores are pretty tough and require courage and tolerance on the part of a domestic woman. The poetess is swamped with work and has no time for herself. She needs to make sure that everyone in the house is fed and fulfils every need.
The first stanza of the poem is the longest in the entire poem by Maya Angelou. It describes in details the everyday household duties that the poetess has to take care of. A taste of slavery is depicted in the first stanza. The woman is confined to her daily hardships dealing with everyday difficulties.
“Shine on me, sunshine
And cool my brow again.”
In the second stanza, the poetess wants to enjoy natural objects and relax on nature’s lap. Her demands are straightforward, compared to the hard work that she goes through every day. She wants the sun to shine and the rain to fall. The simple element of nature gives her comfort and a sense of calm.
She has got tired of domestic work and wants to go close to nature. She wants the
sunlight to shine on her and the raindrops to fall on her. The dew drops should gently fall upon her. All these things can cool her brow and take her away from reality for a while. All these natural objects can give her the peace and satisfaction she craves while doing her everyday chores.
“Storm, blow me from here
‘Til I can rest again.”
The third stanza denotes an expression of her escapism from the busy life of a working woman. The domestic woman in the poem remains busy and dreams of an ideal life amidst nature. In this stanza, she asks the storms to blow her from the busy world across the sky, with its stormy and gushing wind.
As a result of which, she will be able to get relief from the hurly-burly of life. She asks the storm to take her to an imaginary world for the rest. Only her imagination can give her peace, solace and a taste of freedom. In reality, this freedom and satisfaction that she desires are not possible.
“Fall gently, snowflakes
Let me rest tonight.”
This stanza is also an expression of her taking relief and refuge with the natural elements of nature. She asks the snowflakes to fall gently on her body and completely cover her up and make it all white. When the woman will be completely covered up, and under the charm and burden of the white snow, she will get solace.
She further asks the snow to touch her and give her cold icy kisses, which will help her to rest the entire night. Her reality seems to deny her of all the solace and peace, so she yearns for a sense of calm in the lap of Mother Nature.
“Sun, rain, curving sky
You’re all that I can call my own.”
In the last stanza, the poetess addresses all the elements of nature that can relieve her from the busy life of a working woman. She wants to lose herself among the natural objects. Thus she asks the sun, rain, the curving sky, the mountains, the ocean, the leaves and stones to give her relief.
She craves for relief and joy from all the natural things and wants to run away from the dark and dull life at home and serve others. For this reason, she asks the moon to glow, the shining stars to give her shelter along with them. She wants to be close to nature and calls these things her own because she wants some leisure and satisfaction. Nature can give her delight and can transport her to the world of peace and tranquility.
In contrast to the first stanza, the subsequent stanzas exhibit a slower and more relaxed movement. It is as if the poetess needs to rest after a hard day’s work. The protagonist ends the poem invoking the presence of nature that refreshes both her body and her soul.
What is the message of woman work?
Black Women’s Labor and Freedom
“Woman Work” describes the pressure that women, and Black women in particular, face to work and care for other people. The speaker must cook, clean, pick cotton, cut sugar cane, and take care of everyone around her, finding brief respite only in the freedom offered by the natural world.
What kind of poem is woman work?
“Woman Work” is a very domestic poem depicting the typical routine life of a woman who performs her daily chores effectively and then yearns for a fantastic break amidst the elements of nature to give her strength and comfort.
When did Maya Angelou Write woman work?
Though published in 1978, “Woman Work” is a poem that easily fits along that continuum.
Who wrote the poem woman work?
Why was woman work written?
Speaker. Maya Angelou’s purpose for writing the poem “Woman Work” is to show a woman’s struggles and to express her pain as a single mother. The poem gives everyone a look into a woman’s day that is filled with hard work and stress. Diction consists of both vocabulary and syntax.
What is the theme of the poem woman?
The poem analyzes the themes of the strength of women in the face of adversity and danger, the sacrifices women make, and the hopes of mothers for their children.