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Compare the ways Maya Angelou and William Cowper present the issue of slavery in the poems 'Still I Rise' and 'The Negro's Complaint'.

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Introduction

Compare the ways Maya Angelou and William Cowper present the issue of slavery in the poems 'Still I Rise' and 'The Negro's Complaint' The poems, 'Still I Rise' and 'The Negro's Complaint', clearly present the issues of slavery in different ways. 'Still I Rise' was written in the 1970's by a poet called Maya Angelou. Angelou was a black American. Angelou writes about the effects which slavery had on black people and how she always rose above what happened in her life. Hence the name of the poem, 'Still I Rise'. On the other hand, 'The Negro's Complaint', was written in 1788 when slavery was still legal, therefore, Cowper's poem was seen as very controversial at the time when it was written. 'Still I Rise' was written many years after the slave trade was abolished but nevertheless, white people were segregated from the blacks in this very racist time. Obviously the main theme of the poem is: the effects of slavery, the treatment of blacks, and racism. The content of 'Still I Rise' is very moving as it describes all the things which slavery had had its affect on. ...read more.

Middle

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, "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, "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. ...read more.

Conclusion

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. Samantha Staniland 9Ta ...read more.

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