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Still I Rise by Maya Angelou and Disabled by Wilfred Owen: Comparative Analysis

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Both poems still i rise by Maya Angelou and disabled by Wilfred Owen explore the theme of the past and its consequences upon the present. Still i rise is a positive and almost defiant piece of lyrical poetry refusing to allow the poet's troubled past to affect her present. it shows Angelou's willpower and how like dust shell rise. while in disabled the soldiers present makes him long for his past leaving him very melancholic and wondering why don't they come and put him into bed

The title disabled is particularly noteworthy as it shows how the soldier's disability sets him apart from other people and that he is unable to enjoy life again. its short directness tells us that this is the soldiers identity the poem does not use his name simply refers to himself the subject as disabled and that he is defined by his physical state and not by who he is as a person.

This is further emphasized later in the poem by the fact that women's eyes Passed from him to the strong men that were whole. Owen's use of the word whole suggests that the soldier feels incomplete without the use of his limbs and that he will never enjoy the same quality of life as he did before after the war.

On the other hand in still i rise the title uses a metaphor that is repeated throughout the poem giving the poem a lyrical tone that develops rhythm throughout the poem. the title is in the present tense firstly showing that she has and will always rise above those who trod me in the very dirt. secondly using this tense allows Angelou to convey to the reader her strength and resolve she demonstrates through its repetition that this phrase will always hold true and she will always prevail.

Both Angelou and Owen use the opening lines of the poem to set the overall atmosphere. angelou uses direct and strong sentences to display her defiant conflagrant attitude where you may write me down in history. you may tread me in the very dirt but still like dust ill rise.

In stanza1 Angelou shows how she doesn't care about what people say even if they are bitter twisted lies and this illustrates to the reader how words have no power over her. this is further emphasized by her use of strong defiant words. on the other hand in disabled, the poem opens with the soldier in the dark isolated lonely waiting for someone to come put him to sleep the language here is quite melancholy.

Owen also sets the atmosphere more dramatically by showing the reader the harsh reality of the present. to picture the ex-soldiers suit is legless and sewn short at the elbow illustrates with great impact and visual imagery that the soldier lost his limbs at war.

The soldier's mood is echoed in line 4 when he describes the voices of boys ringing saddening like a hymn showing that to him they sound melancholic reminding him of something similar to his own sadness longing and grieving felt at funerals. line 5 where the narrator tells us of voices of play and pleasure shows us how voices that would to most sound joyful to the soldier sound painful and remind him of what he has lost and of his memories of happier times when he himself was able to play just as these young boys are now. grief is an underlying theme throughout the poem which contrasts with Angelou who uses her past to motivate her.

Lines 4 and 5 carry greater emphasis indicating to the reader the depth of the soldier's depression through the use of repetition of the word voices at the beginning of each line. they give a sense of overwhelming noise surrounding the soldier who cannot escape these sad voices which could also imply his own voice in amongst them telling him how much he has lost and how hopeless his life is now.

The contrast between the outlooks of the narrators of the poems are further emphasized in stanza 2. in still i rise Mayas confident and positive attitude is a stark contrast to the sad soldier reminiscing about his past. angelou uses the imagery of such grandeur and strength telling us of her oil wells/pumping in my living room and in this we see how opposed the perceptions and attitudes of the two narrators are. angelou answers her oppressors with her sassiness and she seems amused by how they are beset with gloom while Owen creates vivid imagery describing how slim girls waists are yet these memories of joy are described in a depressing forlorn tone because he has no chance of being with a woman which the reader is continuously reminded of. this continues in stanza 3 where Owen describes how there was an artist silly for his face telling the reader how handsome and sought after he was but how he has lost it all now she is disabled. the stanza is heavy with regret for his past decision to join the war.

Both writers use repetition in their poems to emphasize key points in their respective poems. in still i rise Angelou repeats the phrase i rise throughout the poem, particularly in the last stanza. maya Angelou was renowned for her perseverance and in this poem she shows how she has the strength to stand up in the face of oppression. her use of repetition ensures that her message will stick in the reader's mind and acts as a backbone to the poem. furthermore, the poem ends with an emphasis on her strength and helps to conclude the message of her poem; despite the adversities, she faces she will rise.

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Meanwhile the use of repetition in disabled shows Owens disdain and anger towards the military system and the pressures of society. the soldiers joined the army after attending a football match showing how unaware they were of the significance or consequences joining the army had. the repetition of the word after shows that he joined after such an insignificant event in contrast to the major life decision that he was making further amplifying the casualness of his decision. owen is trying to illustrate how the enthusiasm of society for war without any regard for its consequences can create unrealistic expectations which can often ruin lives.

In this poem the soldier represents the many he sat in a wheeled chair in this owen uses anonymity at the beginning of the poem with the pronoun he which means it could be any of the many soldiers returning from war. furthermore, we learn nothing more about the identity of the soldier not even his name this again shows how society did not understand war what it meant and how it would affect the population at large.

Stanza 4 of each poem is particularly interesting as they both explore the expectations of society. in still i rise as an African-American woman at the time mainstream society wanted her to have a bowed head and lowered eyes whilst in disabled the soldier is carried shoulder-high after only scoring a goal. in these simple sentences, we see the parallel between being a white male and a colored female at that time. the white male was always celebrated and dominant in his achievements while no matter the achievements of the colored female society wanted her to be hidden broken and of course subservient. yet despite these expectations of society, both narrators have gone against them and we see angelou defiant and clear in her ambition while the soldier feels like his disability has robbed him of his place in society and life.

In stanza 3 Owen shows the mental aging of the soldier in the lines for it was younger than his youth last year. now he is old; his back will never brace; the use of hyperbole here shows the lasting effect of war and how the soldier will never enjoy the same quality of life as he has been mentally and physically scarred by the effects of war. this is in stark contrast to the soldier's past prior to when he joined the military which is described in enticing detail. before the soldier went to war girls glanced lovelier. this use of alliteration amplifies the significance of the enchanting beauty of the soldier's glory days

Maya Angelou also combines the use of several poetic devices in still i rise to paint a vivid picture. however, in contrast to Owens's melancholic despair, Angelou tells the reader of her endurance hope and strength. angelou particularly uses nature as a semantic field this is especially evident in verse three when she says just like moons and like suns with the certainty of tides just like hopes springing high still ill rise. here Angelou is trying to say just like the moon and sunrise and set her courage can be relied upon and will help her overcome those who oppress her in a repetitive cycle. her courage and determination are as inevitable as the passage of time as marked by the lunar and solar cycles and the natural ebb and flow of the tides.

Angelou also uses tone to evoke clear emotions ranging from anger/ sympathy to her and hope in the future in the reader. her tone is inconsistent through the poem with the narrative voice ranging from annoyed in line 2 with your bitter twisted lies and sassy to optimistic and cheerful for example in line 19 cause I laugh like I've got gold mines. this varying tone indicates the tumultuous journey her life has taken her through. although the direct tone changes from stanza to stanza the reader can still pick up angelou's underlying consistent tone which is challenging and feisty. this shows the determination of the poet to ensure her message is heard refusing to allow her oppressors to win in keeping her silent.

The tone Owen uses throughout the poem is one of loss and melancholy. this is evidently displayed in the despairing tones used by the soldier to describe his present and the depressive longing with which he describes his past. we feel a strong sense of loss in stanza 2. he begins the stanza by describing the atmosphere of the town which. used to swing so gay the use of this enjambment makes the reader clearly understand how happy and light things used to be and how much the soldier is hanging onto these lost memories. this contrasts greatly with the declarative sentence in line 10 where we the readers are told this was in the old times before he threw away his knees..

In stanza three Owen says hes lost his colour very far from here the fact that his face had lost all its color indicates that his life has been poured out of him during the war through the loss of his limbs the soldier feels that half of his life is already over. the line and leap of purple spurted from his thigh constitutes a dramatic climax with the use of the assonance of p. it signifies that the energy and vigour of the young man is now gone and given the way the soldier is now described in his place is an old man. the rhythm/pace is quite fast with an assonantly rhymed spurt and purple. the semantic field of colour imagery grey blue purple

Owen also uses metaphors and personification till the gathering sleep had mothered them from him where sleep is personified as a mother gathering her children to her at the end of the day. it is a gentle metaphor that evokes deep pity in the reader for a man who is cold and tired and yet unable to leave or change his position until someone remembers that he needs putting to bed. this line is very effective as it also shows the reader that the soldier has very little comfort and it is only when he sleeps does he find any comfort as the sleep from the voices and thoughts that trouble his mind.

Both poets use the organization and layout of their poems to depict to the reader and clear the journey through the past and the present of the protagonists. the poem still i rise in organized quatrains until we reach the seventh stanza after which there is no regularity to the structure. the eighth and ninth stanzas have six and nine lines respectively. this symbolizes how now later in life the poet is free from those who oppressed her. the repetition of i rise is also a statement of liberation. the abcb rhyming system becomes an ababcc in stanza eight forms and in stanza nine ababccbbb. example

In disabled the poem is divided into two separate sections; his life before the war began and the reality of life after the war. this is shown by the fact that the language in the disabled changes from the joyous description of his youth to the more morbid diction of the present. in the last stanza of each poem, the respective poets talk about the future. the juxtaposition between the pejorative language in disabled and the ameliorative language in still i rise clearly indicates to the reader the direction of the lives of our protagonists and how they are choosing to move forward through life. at the end of still i rise Angelou is looking forward to the future leaving behind the nights of terror and fear in the past rising up filled with hope. while on the other hand in disabled the soldier will spend a few sick years in institutes the soldier does not look forward to the future and waits for dark which is a euphemism for death. angelou- words have no power over her language expand on poetic devices used and how in conclusion both poems give us an interesting depiction of society and its views and morals at the time and even more interestingly still i rise by Maya Angelou and disabled by Wilfred Owen explore the theme of the past and its effects on the present and the future. in disabled grief and loss is an underlying theme throughout the poem Owen explores how the soldier feels his disability sets him apart from other people and how the soldier has mentally aged beyond his physical age due to the experiences he has suffered through. owen takes the reader on a vivid journey of images of his present and his past to evoke strong emotion in the reader and his melancholic tone of loss leads the reader to feel exceptional empathy for the consequences of war and how foolishly we enter into war without truly appreciating where it can and will lead us. this contrasts with Angelou who uses her past and her suffering to motivate her. she uses several poetic devices in still I rise to paint a vivid picture to show how she has and will always rise above those who trod her in the very dirt and uses repetition of the phrase I rise to convey her strength. still i rise is a positive and almost defiant piece of lyrical poetry refusing to allow the poet's troubled past to affect her present. it shows Angelou's willpower. angelou's attitude of perseverance is in stark contrast with the soldier disabled who is very melancholic and wondering why don't they come and put him into bed

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Still I Rise by Maya Angelou and Disabled by Wilfred Owen: Comparative Analysis. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
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