The Walls Have Been Steep Essay Research

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The Walls Have Been Steep Essay, Research Paper The Walls Have Been Steep: Recovery of the American-African Male/Female Relationship Maya Angelou?s extraordinary ability to express so clearly the historic and contemporary pain, love, and culture of American-Africans is unparalleled in poetic literature. Her brilliant use of imagery is one of the many facets of her writing that has propelled her to be recognized as one of the greatest poets of our time. The poem she read at the Million Man March called ?The Night Has Been Long,? is a wonderful example of this unparalleled use of imagery. It leads the reader to believe that Angelou has actually experienced and genuinely feels what she is writing about though in many cases her art goes beyond personal experience. Maya Angelou

can evoke any feeling she desires the reader to possess with a few remarkable strokes of a pen. In this particular poem Angelou eloquently details the problem/situation of black men and women in America and then brings forth solutions for the elimination of the problem/correction of the situation. The very first stanza presents the reader with a fitting reference to the experience of black/American-African people. ?The night has been long/The wound has been deep/The pit has been dark/And the walls have been steep.? (Stanza 1 Angelou) Specifically, this stanza describes the American-African experience as an excruciatingly long, painful, frightening, and difficult experience in general thus far. Many authors have more than adequately depicted this same idea, but not quite like Maya

Angelou. Her autobiography is an excellent example of her gift for shocking realism and a type of imagery that makes it easy to understand the time and culture in which she grew up. In the second stanza Angelou provides the reader with a scene that focuses on the actual theme/issue of the entire work. This scene speaks volumes about one of perhaps the most important issues in black culture today: the decayed relationship between the black woman and the black man. Angelou?s image is a first person depiction of the black woman being dragged by her hair on a ?distant beach? just out of the reach of the black man who is gagged, tied, and virtually helpless. Both of their being on this ?distant beach? is symbolic of slavery and their transportation to foreign lands. The ones

responsible for this course of events are whites. This scene takes place under the watchful ?dead blue sky,? symbolic of Caucasian eyes. Furthermore, this image very clearly and creatively denotes the society induced distorted communication between black men and black women, whereas black men have been solely to blame thus far. The third stanza is an echo of the first. It serves as a continued reminder through the dialogue of the poem of the terrible experience of slavery, the aftermath, and the cycle of negativity it has perpetuated. It leads the reader to the fourth stanza where the ancestral influence on people of African descent is brought to light. Ancestral pleas to ?Draw near to one another? and ?save your race? places spiritual value on the healing efforts of Maya

Angelou. The remaining portion of the poem has the same focus toward the restoration and redemption of people of African descent in general. Toward this end, stanzas six and seven recognize the inherent strengths as well as those gained as a result of suffering and hardship. Stanza seven specifically alludes to the African use of rhythm (clapping hands) for healing. ?I say clap hands and let?s deal with each other with love. Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts.? The poem ends in this positive manner by citing specific areas to heal by ?clapping hands.? Clapping hands is an important aspect of spiritual healing in traditional African culture. Members of the veneration ceremony would all establish a rhythm by clapping hands to call up the ancestors to bestow