Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.
- In case you missed it the first time around, our speaker repeats herself. People need other people. Got it?
- And we should point out that this stanza is actually a repetition of the last couple of lines of the first stanza. This structure sets up a sort of call-and-response within the poem. You can almost imagine one person singing the last few lines of stanza one and then an entire chorus of people responding by singing the exact same words.
- Such call and response structures are actually pretty common in black spirituals, which tend to have an almost identical format: first a story, then a chorus, then the repeated version of that chorus, and then more story. By crafting her poem along these lines, Angelou allows it to carry echoes of a long and well-developed tradition.
- Interestingly, spirituals tend to be sung by groups of people. In other words, when the "chorus" gets around to singing this verse, there would be lots and lots of people singing. Notice any irony here? They wouldn't be singing "all alone." In some ways, then placing this poem in the spiritual genre allows the poem to become its own solution!