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Why is part one of And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou called 'Touch Me, Life, Not Softly?'

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Why is part one of And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou called Touch Me, Life, Not Softly? There are four parts to And Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou, the first of which is named Touch Me, Life, Not Softly, and contains eight different poems. Here, I will use these poems to explore the possibilities as to the origins of the title of the first section of the anthology. The 'touch me' part of the phrase can be very ambiguous, as it could signify the way in which there has been physical touching, or being touched in an emotional or mental way, for example, being moved to tears. The latter could then be incorporated into saying the author feels life should affect her deeply, as also illustrated with 'not softly,' which is a theme heavily referred to in this first section. The very first poem of the anthology is A Kind of Love, Some Say, which explores physical abuse within a relationship, and the way the abused partner feels there is still love between the couple, as shown with, 'Sorry eyes, spoke not/ Of lost romance, but hurt.' The idea of life touching people is seen here, as the physical abuse in the poem will surely affect the person in question deeply, not only in life in general, but through all of their future and present relationships. ...read more.


Sex is another part of life that often deeply affects people in very different ways, for instance, in the way they view the experience, or the way particular sexual encounters have affected them in the past. It is definitely not something that would touch someone 'softly.' Where We Belong, A Duet is the fourth poem, and looks at the way people in the world appear to always be searching for a soulmate, throughout life - 'Then I went to schoolrooms/ And poolrooms/ And half-lighted cocktail bars.' Love, of course, plays a major part in everyone's life, whether it is the platonic, unconditional or romantic kind, and therefore obviously can affect people very deeply, like with the sex in the above poem, due to past encounters, or the way they view love. Again, like sex, love is not a subject to be viewed lightly, as it can be said to affect everything in life. Next we have Phenomenal Woman, which explores the way Angelou and other people view her, and how she feels you do not have to be 'cute or built to suit a fashion model's size' in order to be a successful woman in life. Instead, the poet feels it is not what you've got, but what you do with it, for example 'the fire in my eyes,' or 'the ride of my breasts.' Our lives are often much affected by the way we are viewed and also view ourselves, as it can affect everything, from the way we act around certain people, to the way we treat certain situations. ...read more.


- shows how she believes her love will prevail all, if she can meet her soulmate again and again in many different lives. Therefore, life can also touch us deeply through the people we are deigned to meet throughout our course upon earth, and the ways in which they affect us. The final poem is Just for a Time, looking at past relationships and how despite not liking reminiscing about past events, the narrator still does this and looks at the ways he loved his girl. While the first two stanzas reminisce about the past love, the final stanza explores how the narrator feels now, 'I don't spill tears/ On yesterday's years/ But honesty makes me say,/ You were a precious pearl.' Again, it is often our relationships throughout life that very strongly affect the way we react to and feel about things as we are touched by, not softly. Overall, I believe that the first section of Maya Angelou's poetry anthology is called Touch Me, Life, Not Softly as all of the poems mentioned above focus on events and experiences in life that shape us strongly, and imply that life does not let us get away with things easily. However, as Angelou appears to be telling life to do this to her, she is saying, that without life demanding so much from us and affecting us so wholly, we would not be the people we are, and would possibly be not as strong as we are. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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