The reader empathises with Maya Angelou because she completes a very difficult daily grind and doesn’t achieve anything in her life, she isn’t allowed to rest when it seems to be the only thing she asks for and Maya Angelou achieves a sense of peace and tranquillity to the second part of her poem by the use of “fall gently, snowflakes cover me with white cold icy kisses and let me rest tonight”. It slows the pace of the poem down and calms the atmosphere of hysteria with the list of chores earlier in the poem to one of somewhat defeat However there is still a sign of lingering hope in the poem but the determination for a better life is dying.
R. S Thomas’s poem has an atmosphere of perseverance, pride and determination. Words and phrases such as “eighty-five winters old, and still alive” and “miserable? Kick my arse” convey a sense of determination and pride. The phrase “what’s living but courage? ” intensifies the feeling that life is nothing without courage and facing the hard facts of life, and that to survive and progress in life you have to have guts and nerves. The phrase “paunch full of hot porridge, nerves strengthened with tea” tells me that he doesn’t want anything fancy in his life just the basics to keep going.
The phrase “mowing where the grass grew” and “rhythm of the long scythe” this suggests the monotony and repetitiveness of his life. Words and phrases such as “what to do? Stay green. Never mind the machine, whose fuel is human souls. ” Tells me that job Davies is environmentally friendly, wants work to b completed by hand instead of using machines which use human spirits for fuel. I think he’s saying that the human spirit only achieves anything through manual work. Maybe he believes that machines will put people out of a job and that if man used a machine to do the work, it would eat the pride and determination of that man.
The rhetorical questions draw the reader in to the poem and make them consider the questions more, whilst the poet provides the answer to those questions therefore slightly changing the readers view. The words “live large, man, and dream small. ” I think that R. S Thomas was saying that living to work is the way forward but it takes up all your energy, and that there is no room for dreams, they don’t pay, he gains a lot of strength through his environment along with his strict religious background.
I also think a second meaning of this line could be that people who live have large progressive lives but the people who dream have small insignificant lives. Maya Angelous poem makes me feel like life is too difficult to bare if you have nothing to look forward to. R. S Thomas makes me feel like life will only improve and move forward if you complete hard manual work and that if you spend all time dreaming you wont have time to work and progress. Maya Angelou makes me feel like work is very tedious and boring so does R. S Thomas’s poem, but only on the surface.
Once you read Thomas’s poem through completely you understand how fulfilling he finds work an how it gives him everything in life he could ask for. But Angelou’s poem makes me feel that the work will end eventually as long as you hope and dream but Thomas’s makes me think that work will never end he is 85 and hasn’t stopped working yet so it makes me believe if you just continue with hard work all your life you wont be able to stop. R. S Thomas finds happiness and strength in his work so why give it up whereas Maya thinks of it as chores and lists of boring tasks, but for R.
S Thomas it is almost a hobby or pleasurable activity one which he wouldn’t dream of giving up on. It is clear that both poets have chosen words carefully to achieve certain effects. Maya Angelou’s poem uses more colloquial language than R. S Thomas’s poem Lore. Words and phrases such as “The cane to be cut”, “I gotta clean up this hut” and “And the cotton to Pick”, this conveys the fact that her poem is set in southern USA. We know this because of the way she talks ‘cane’ is grown in southern USA, ‘hut’ is what she calls her house and cotton also grows in USA.
Also the title “woman work” is the dialect of a black American, it also shows her lack of education because it is grammatically incorrect or she may just be reaching out to her audience for empathy. The words “paunch”, “peat-black”, “scythe” and “lithe” are all associated with the language of the countryside and the language of Whales. Even the title “Lore” means traditional folk Lore tales. These words are from these cultures because they are unfamiliar to where I live and they suit the locations I have mentioned very well, they would be likely to be used in speech there.
Maya Angelou constantly wants to rest throughout her poem. “And cool my brow again”, this suggests she believes everyone needs a little rest in order to continue, its almost fundamental to rest. She mentions needing to rest three times in her poem “till I can rest again”, “let me rest tonight”, the whole time she is working she seems to be dreaming of having a rest instead of getting on with the work so she can have a rest. Job Davies has a lot of pride in the work he does “miserable? Kick my arse”.
He is saying how could he be miserable, he believes he has gained so much out of work he doesn’t regret anything. “What’s living but courage”, this tells me that R. S Thomas believes that living is nothing without continual work and grind, if you can t be bothered to keep going you will have no life. “Rhythm of the long scythe kept this tall frame lithe”, R. S Thomas is saying that work helps you keep fit it is all the sitting around and dreaming that will kill you he’s 85 and still going the same a she did years ago due to his hard work which keeps him healthy.
“Never mind the machine” he doesn’t believe in using machines to do the work that a person can, why would you want to with all the benefits to your health. Anyway the machines “fuel is human souls”, it will eat your soul make you lazy and you will lack effort and pride, machines eat a mans character and heart. “Live large, man, and dream small”, R,S Thomas wants people to live to work and work to live. He’s saying work as much as possible so you can progress with your life there is no room for dreams, they don’t pay. There are a few striking words throughout the two poems.
In Maya’s poem she comments; “storm blow me from here with you’re fiercest wind” this changes the overall ‘angle’ or tone of the poem, and she seems now to resent work much more than she did in the earlier stanzas of the poem. She uses powerful words, “fiercest wind”, she really wants to get away, she doesn’t say strong wind she says “fiercest”, which makes her seem helpless and needy. Only the fiercest wind can take her out of this miserable situation. Maya Angelou uses a few metaphors throughout her poem; “curving sky”.
This seems like a hidden meaning, her saying she is trapped and this could suggest her looking for a rainbow or horizon, like something to look forward to. “You’re all that I can call my own” this phrase makes Maya seem desperate like after everything she does every day she still has nothing to show for it which really makes me want to reach out and help her. She seems so helpless and lonely. In Thomas’s poem he uses some very powerful, harsh and striking words that almost catch the reader off guard, certainly more so than in Maya’s poem.
“Slow poison” he is talking about how aging has occurred, but makes it sound very nasty and almost like when you are aging you are slowly decomposing. “Kick my arse” he is showing anger towards people who think he might be miserable due to his aging, he uses this harsh language at the beginning of his second stanza which is quite a shock to the reader yet quite an enlightening experience into the mind of job Davies and R. S Thomas. “The great perch of my laugh” it makes Ronald sound quiet superior to everyone else.
“Peat black” these words are quite depressing and sombre. “Whose fuel is human souls” this phrase uses very strong language, it almost makes me quiver, the thought of machines eating human’s souls. Maya Angelou uses imperative verbs like “shine on me” and “rain on me”, these show that Maya Angelou was desperate when writing this poem. In Maya Angelous poem she says, “let me rest tonight” this is an explicit meaning, it is clear that she just wants a rest. “Cover me with white” this is an implicit or explicit meaning. It could just suggest the cooling effect of the snow.
Or it could mean that the woman wants to be white because they have easier seeming lives and more rights or it could just be the colour of ice or it could mean puracy. Another implicit meaning in the poem woman work is “curving sky” it could mean many things horizon, rainbow or her feeling enclosed. In Lore there is only one implicit meaning: “Live large, man, and dream small. ” I believe that R. S Thomas means that people who live have large progressive lives but the people who dream have small insignificant lives. All the other meanings in the poem are explicit like “miserable?
Kick my arse”, its obvious he’s not miserable and “what to do? Stay green”, he thinks people should be environmentally friendly and gain strength from the environment. Also In Mayas poem she uses alliteration “shine on me sunshine” and “star shine”. One phrase that does stick out to me personally in her poem is: “And the cotton to pick” Its just something I can relate to whatsoever but then again it would have been a big part of traditional jobs for black slaves which they would often gone in and out of all year long in the south.