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Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay
Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...
Form and Meter
Too loose to be formal, too free to be loose"Africa" lives somewhere in the no-man's-land between formal regularity and an absolute free-for-all. You could say that each stanza has eight lines̷...
This poem seems to be spoken by a kind of omniscient, or all-knowing, being. After all, the poem starts off in the Land Without Time (not to be confused with the dinosaur movie. C'mon folks!). And...
Umm…Africa?We're going out on a limb here, folks. After all, Africa is only mentioned about twice in every stanza. Oh, and it's the title. Did we forget to mention that?Here's the real questi...
This poem scans like a national anthem: short, snappy lines, easy-to-remember refrains, and larger-than-life images that transform an entire continent into a gorgeous woman.Think about it: the firs...
What's Up With the Title?
"Africa" takes on an almost mythic character in this poem – so it's strangely fitting that Angelou would choose to keep her title simple and to the point. Want to know what this poem is about...
History. Or, Herstory.Let's turn our eyes to a constant in Angelou's repertoire: attention to the history of Africans and African Americans. After all, she made her way into the literary world with...
(2) Sea LevelSure, you have to know a little bit about the history of the world to figure out that Angelou is re-creating a broad-strokes version of African history here. But even if you missed eve...
Maya Angelou, a famous dancer? Who would've guessed it? Before turning into a world-renowned writer, Angelou danced with the Alvin Ailey troop in multiple TV specials. Talk about a well-rounded wom...
PGImplicit in this poem is an understanding of the brutal sexual violence that was part of the African slave trade. Angelou doesn't go into much detail here, but when she describes the way that "br...
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