Study Guide

Alone Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

By Maya Angelou

Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Repetition

Hey, if something sounds good the first time, chances are it'll sound even better the second time. Or the third time. Or the twenty-eighth 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… if only to get you to shut up. We're not saying that 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 8-10, 20-22, 32-34: Want to figure out the message of this poem? You don't have to look too hard. Angelou incorporates it into the end of every other stanza!
Lines 11-13, 23-25, 35-37: And if the end of every other stanza weren't enough, Stanzas 2, 4, and 6 are identical. And they look a whole lot like the ends of Stanzas 1, 3, and 5.

Alone-ness

When you've got a one-word title, you're almost announcing the central theme of the poem.
We'd call it solitude, but Angelou seems pretty attached to the word "alone," so we thought we'd better stick to the real thing.

The word "alone" pops up in Lines 10, 13, 22, 25, 34, 37. Angelou makes sure that "alone" is the last word on our tongues at the end of each stanza. We're "alone" at the beginning and "alone" at the end. There's just a whole lot of words in between.

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