“When I Think About Myself” by Maya Angelou, a celebrated American poet, is a remarkable poem that alludes to the struggle of her life. Maya begins the poem with a special note about herself. She says that thinking about herself makes her laugh to death. The juxtaposition of ideas in the opening lines suggests that her life has not been what it should have been. Expressions like “dance that’s walked” and “song that spoke” hints her discontent as the most joyous moments are reduced to something ordinary.
The second stanza further sheds light on her distress when she says that she has spent sixty years in a world that makes her feel like an outsider. She does everything to please others with a resultant loss of eternal joy. After talking specifically about herself, she extends her laughter to include her folks or the black community who share the same phenomenon. The thought of her community once again made her laugh so hard that she nearly died. The world’s absurdity is reflected clearly in the poem’s final lines; it makes a woman laugh during her worst times. While thinking about the struggle of her community makes her laugh apparently, but deep inside, she cries and mourns.
“When I Think About Myself” Themes
“When I Think About Myself” by Maya Angelou carries various themes, including man versus the world, the absurdity of the world, the struggle of the black community, and the distress of a person. This short and straightforward poetic piece makes the reader reflect upon the lives of African Americans who gave their best to the world, but their sacrifices could not bring them the desired status. The thought of being an outsider in a world where the speaker has spent her whole life makes her laugh to death.
First, she laughs a lot thinking about her life and the way she spent it. As the poem goes on, she broadens her laughter and adds the misfortune of her community into her laughter. Their struggle to please the world, living standards and unfulfilled desires make her laugh and cry simultaneously. To make the readers understand her unexpressed grief, she alludes to the labor of the blacks in the final lines. She laments the way they are engaged in hard labor without receiving the benefits of their hard work.
“When I Think About Myself”, Conclusion
“When I Think About Myself” by Maya Angelou is a thought-provoking poem that questions the unjust approach of the world. The ironic laughter of the speaker leaves various questions for the world to answer. First, she wonders about the cruelty, brutality, and insanity of the world that fails to appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of her community. The industrious people of her community strived to benefit the world through ages, sustaining hardships and austerity. But, unfortunately, the whites retained the formal prerogative power to stop her folks from making progress. These injustices, discrimination, and prejudice make her laugh until her inner grief shines in her tears.