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Symbolism and Allusion in Maya Angelou's My Arkansas

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Symbolism and Allusion in Maya Angelou's "My Arkansas"         

 

 "There is a deep brooding/ in Arkansas." Arkansas is stuck in the past, its memories of hatred and crime from ante-bellum days hindering the progression towards Civil Rights. Maya Angelou's poem of the struggle to a new wave of equality uses both general symbolism and historical allusion to make its theme clear to the reader. The poem uses general symbolism in nature, in time, and historical allusion to make the theme clear in a concise but vibrant poem.

 

The general symbolism relating to nature assumes a common base of knowledge from which symbolism can be built. The poem opens with a description of Arkansas: "Old crimes like moss pend/ from poplar trees./ The sullen earth/ is much too/ red for comfort." The first example of general symbolism in this passage is the reference to moss. Moss is considered the base of the forest, the lowest level from which all of the other plants grow. Although moss is vital to a forest, it is often thought of ...

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