This verse opens with the phrase that is repeated throughout the poem, .
This refrain appears in almost every stanza. It reinforces a key theme of the poem - that of the grandmother's increasing sense of uselessness.
The deliberate use of the word 'they' also seems to create a sense of separation and distance between the grandmother and her children, who are united in their belief that her drive to knit is unnecessary.
The effect of the repetition of these words invites the reader to doubt this assertion. It implies that perhaps the grandmother is right to cling on to her beliefs and traditions - they still have relevance today even if others don’t seem to recognise this.
There is almost something defiant in the following lines, , as the central image used throughout the poem of the grandmother’s hands is introduced.
The needles are personified, as though they have a life of their own and that the hands move instinctively, skilfully and automatically.
The word 'but' is also repeated throughout the poem, appearing in every stanza. This helps to present a counter point of view to that of the grandmother’s children and their insistence that her knitting is now unnecessary.
What they fail to grasp is that her need to knit stems from her need to have purpose and feel useful. Even in old age and infirmity she still wants to contribute something tangible to the world.
Almost seamlessly, aided perhaps by the continuation of one long sentence, these same hands are transported back to her past. We see them when she was a .
This jump between the present and the past too is a repeated feature of the poem. It helps to show the direct relationship between the elderly, infirm grandmother of today and the young, robust girl of her youth. Again, it is the hands that act as the central linking image between the two.
Imagery In The Poem Our Grandmothers by Maya Angelou
Image (Imagery) Descriptive poetry flourished. One basic meaning for image is provided by that context, but other, looser and more treacherous, meanings have accreted: any sensuous effect provoked by literary language; any striking language; metaphor; symbol; any figure.
Maya Angelou s poem, Our Grandmother s, vividly exemplifies a sense of imagery that is brought to life. The most effective way that, Maya Angelou presents imagery to the readers is through the setting. Firstly, at the beginning of the poem the narrator describes the current state of the main character and gives a brief description of the setting through imagery. She lay, skin down on the moist dirt, / the whispers of leaves / the longing of hounds ( Our Grandmothers , 1-4). These lines are very effective to the readers because the imagery behind these lines allows the readers to feel the cool breeze blowing, hear the leaves rustling and even sense the smell of fear; everything that one could think of to enhance the setting of a plantation. Reading this poem is an escape from modern day life. As readers, we observe everything that the narrator and the main character experience. To fulfill the imagination of the readers, Maya Angelou concentrates primarily as to how the readers are going to interpret certain events. Secondly, the setting was also illustrated through imagery when the narrator says, She stands before the abortion clinic, / confounded by the lack of choices / On lonely street corners, / hawking her body ( Our Grandmothers , 94-106). These few selected lines are important to the development of imagery through the setting. Here the narrator comments, that even though slavery was a thing of the past, it still exists in modern day society. The readers feel as if they are actually there, undermining the role of the main character and experience the horrors of living in a racially discriminatory world. The feel of standing on the corner prostituting one s self to make ends meet because no one will give you a job for the color of your skin is too dark. It is sad to say, but apparently is the type of world we live in. Maya Angelou leaves the readers gripping the edge of their seats because everything appears to be real. With an effervescent description of the setting, Maya Angelou allows us to slip into the persona of a slave and experience the abuse that they have underwent for hundreds of years.
Maya Angelou creates a realistic sense of imagery by utilizing thorough descriptions of the setting, however imagery is also apparent when viewed through the text of Maya Angelou s descriptive language. This imagery is first displayed when the narrator says, She gathered her babies, / their tears slick as oil on black faces ( Our Grandmothers , 8-9). The descriptive language allows the reader to visualize as how the children were stripped from their parents at such an early age. The mother is taken away from her family so that she can live a life as someone else s piece of property. This is what Maya Angelou sets out to create, a sense of imagery, an event that the readers can almost experience first hand. Secondly, Maya Angelou displays imagery through descriptive language when the mother professes the love she has for her children and realizes that it may be the last time she will ever see them, They sprouted like young weeds, / but she could not shield their growth / from the grinding blades of ignorance ( Our Grandmothers , 57-59). The main character is deeply saddened by the toll slavery has taken on her life. She is denied the right to see her children grow because of the ignorance of mankind. This is a prime example of imagery through descriptive language, which illustrates the way Maya Angelou tries to connect with the reader. The more descriptive she gets, the brighter the picture is created in the minds of the readers. Maya Angelou is a very creative individual whose legacy will continue for years to come. If one can set aside any distractions and free their minds, then that is when one can really start to gain an appreciation for the work of Maya Angelou.