Poetry Project

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou


Assertion: Maya uses examples of physical appearance to represent how confidence is usually portrayed from that, this helps you image her stride and how she carries herself on a day to day basis.


"It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman"

Commentary: This vocabulary contrasts societies idea of a confident woman and what Maya is trying to portray.

Figurative Language

Assertion: Maya uses comparisons and metaphors all throughout her poem "Phenomenal Woman".

Example: "Then they swarm around me"

Commentary: This is a hint to a metaphor about honey bee's later in the poem. Maya does this to further enhance her "secret" to being a confident woman.


Assertion: The sound of this poem is very unique and a little odd. It does not have much of a rhyme scheme but it does have similar symbols and repeated words to emphasize her point.


"I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees."

Commentary: Please, Knees, and Bees create a kind of musical catch to the poem, the sound is not exactly apparent throughout but a key factor into what Maya is trying to say about woman.

Rhyme and Meter

Assertion: The poems contrasting meters creates a contract between what society see's a woman as and what a confident woman really looks like.


"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips."

Commentary: There are more stresses at the end of every line in the second half, and at the first part there are more stresses at the beginning making them contrast.


Assertion: The theme of "Phenomenal Woman" is confidence and how attractive it is to love yourself regardless of how you look. She uses words like "Sun", "Ride", "Grace" to describe herself. This supports her theme.


"t's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style."

Commentary: These words help woman everywhere connect with her underlying theme of being confident and loving yourself regardless of how models look, or what society says.