Where we Belong – A Duet – Maya Angelou
by Senior reader
The opening stanza of this poem has a lively and optimistic rhythm, emphasised by the repeated openings of the first three lines. The short line length, and the full rhyme on lines 3 and 4 also emphasise this rhythm. The last two lines are a contrast, changing the tone and introducing an element of discord and shock to the reader as the writer introduces the idea of loneliness.
The second stanza summarises the history of her love life, and her search for significance through this – “mysterious meanings”. There is an element of realistic description that is not that common with Maya Angelou in the “half-lighted cocktail bars”, whilst the rhyme “poolrooms/ schoolrooms” emphasises the banal nature of these relationships. She was relaxed, it was a game, she says later in the stanza.
The third stanza probably suggests a universality to this search for love rather than bi-sexuality. The scenes of love making continue to be banal – “dusty” and drab or false and artificial – “debutante balls”. She is lonely, and ironically falls in love “forever” a couple of times a year; she gave herself in love, but was always let down.
Angelou uses her trademark imagery of the sun rising to introduce the “you” who is the solution to her loneliness – a theme, or leit motif of the anthology if you like. The full rhyming couplet which concludes the poem emphasises the impact of this new love.
It’s interesting that Angelou places such faith in romantic love, and that she now believes, probably in defiance of logic, that this new love is the true, forever one. I don’t suppose she could be being ironic? Not likely, bearing in mind the title and theme of the anthology “And so I rise”. This is one of her ways of rising.