by Maya Angelou


We’ve got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you’ll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(2) Sea Level

Sure, 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 every single day of social studies class ever, you'd still get the general picture. Africa's had a history of suffering. But it's also had a longer, older history, one that pre-dates the slave trade – which is what Stanza 1 makes clear to us.

Frankly, this poem is about as easy to digest as any poem with four-syllable lines could be. We're not saying that the poem's a walk in the park. We're just saying that Angelou keeps it simple so that we won't miss her point.

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