by Maya Angelou
Hey, if something sounds good the first time, chances are it'll sound even better the second time. Or the third time. Or the 28th time. It's irrefutable logic from your childhood: if you say "Please" loud enough and long enough, eventually your mom will let you have just about anything you want. We're not saying this poem is annoying and redundant in the way that you were. (Face it, you were.) We're just saying that repetition, used wisely, can be a powerful tool.
- Lines 1, 7, 17, 25: There's a fancy term for repetition within a poem: anaphora. In this case, some version of the line "Thus she has lain" occurs four (count 'em, four!) times within the 25-line poem.
- Lines 3, 4, 5, 6: The syntactic structure of these lines is repetitive, giving us the sense of an image that's gradually being built up over time.
- Lines 19, 20, 22: You guessed it…repeating the first word in a line is anaphora. Chances are that it'll be easier to "remember" when we read it three times!
- Lines 9, 10: The word "white" is repeated twice in two lines, setting it in stark contrast to the blackness of Africa (as our speaker describes her in line 8).