“Woman Work” by Maya Angelou is a painful description of chores. The poetess has got the responsibility to look after the whole house internally as well as externally. She has to do a lot of work from dawn to dust. She has to look after her children. Also, She prepares food, washes clothes, cleans hut, goes shopping and whatnot. The daily routine has made her so sick and tired that she wishes to have some change in her life. For this purpose, she wants to go to the world of Nature. Nature is free and fair to all.
People may have a monopoly on worldly things but nobody has got authority over the objects of Nature. Moreover, Nature offers a variety of fresh things. Nature never betrays the heart that loves her. Thus, Nature is the sole source of solace and satisfaction. It is a way to get rid of the hackneyed routine of life. The poetess calls the objects of Nature as her part and parcel because they have the capacity to give her freshness.
The poetess in “Woman Work” enumerates uninteresting chores, which a housewife has to go through daily. It is not an easy routine. Yet it is the greatness of a woman who devotes herself completely to her family. She sacrifices all her comforts for the sake of her children and members of the family. She carries out the entire maintenance of the house like washing clothes, bathing children, cleaning utensils, floor, and the entire house. Then she has to go for shopping all the necessary edibles. She can seldom take rest, as her duty does not end anywhere. She has to cook food, serve it to all family members and look after the children.
Still, she does not ask for any reward. She is grateful to the blessings of Nature, like sky full of shining stars and glowing moon, the sun, mountains, seas, air, rain and snow. These objects enable her to contribute maximum to the peaceful life of a family. She seeks the objects of Nature for soothing effect.
Explanation with Reference
I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mp
The food to shop
In the given lines of the poem “Woman Work”, the poetess enumerates a women’s tiresome activities which she has to do in a regular manner. She is bound to take care of her children, repair the torn clothes, clean the floor and buy groceries from the market. The life of a domestic woman seems to be mechanical. She has no time to take a sigh of relief. A married woman is a symbol of miserable life which she has to lead under odd circumstances. She enumerates her every activity to show how she is overpowered by the tension of different chores.
Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again
The lines are the reflection of the working woman’s appeal to Nature for peace and contentment. She is dead tired by the household tasks. She longs for the blessings of sunshine, rain, and dewdrops as it will give her solace and strength to live. That’s why she asks the sun to cast its rays upon her and request the rain to fall on her. She also yearns to be refreshed by the dewdrops. She will enter the world of satisfaction where there is no worry of domestic chores. These lines also describe woman’s escape to an ideal world.
Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own
These lines show the working woman’s sense of deprivation as there is nothing except natural objects to which she could call her own. She claims the objects of Nature, the sun, rain, curving sky, mountains, oceans, leaves, stones, star shine, and the moon to be her own. It will provide support and charm to her colorless life. In this way, she seeks shelter from her laborious routine work as well as paying tribute to natural objects. She believes Nature always consoles her like a mother. It also reflects her preference to feel real pleasure. So nature proves the only source of delight for her.