Compare and Contrast Poems; 'Still I Rise' and 'I Shall Return'

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Compare & Contrast

The poems I am comparing and contrasting are ‘Still I Rise’ and ‘I Shall Return.’ The main similarity between these poems is to do with the theme. They both talk about confidence and mental strength. The poets both have had very different upbringings, but have both been depressed at one point in their lives.

The woman who wrote ‘Still I Rise’, Maya Angelou, was born in Saint Louis. Maya was sent to live with her grandmother after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Soon after, she moved to San Francisco, to try to forget about her troubled childhood. She wrote the bestseller “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings” as she travelled, and can now speak fluently in lots of languages. ‘Still I Rise’ is based on Maya’s childhood; being treated unfairly, but still coming back with confidence.

The other poet was a man, Claude McKay, who was born in Jamaica. He moved to America and founded ‘African blood brothers.’ Shortly after, he moved to London where he died of a heart attack. His poem, ‘I Shall Return’ shows he wanted other people to be grateful for what they had, and to show he had happier times in his childhood. Also, it’s the start of your life; the only time you can control your future, which is a very important thing in this poem as I feel he wishes that he could have stayed in the happy place of his childhood, and that it could have changed his whole life. The way he talks about his recent pain “To ease my mind of long, long years of pain” and the way he uses repetition emphasises the fact he couldn’t get away from the pain.

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        ‘Still I rise’ is about Maya Angelou’s history. When you read the poem, you feel she has had a bad past, even if you do not know anything about her. The main themes in the poem are about discrimination, and being ill-treated but still coming across as the stronger one. She repeats “I’ll rise” throughout the poem, showing she has high hopes for herself. Towards the end of the poem, she starts to say “I rise,” which shows she is happy with how she is now, and possibly happy with the way people treat her. The point in this poem ...

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