Old folks
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OLD FOLKS. MAYA ANGELOU.

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OLD FOLKS

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Old folks

OLD FOLKS


Maya angelou

MAYA ANGELOU

  • Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture.

  • Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.


Old folks1

OLD FOLKS

  • They have spent theircontent of simpering,holding their lips thisand that way, windingthe lines between5their brows. Old folksallow their bellies to jiggle like slowtambourines.The hollersrise up and spill10over any way they want.When old folks laugh, they free the world.They turn slowly, slyly knowingthe best and the worstof remembering.15


Old folks

  • Saliva glistens inthe corners of their mouths,their heads wobbleon brittle necks, buttheir laps20are filled with memories.When old folks laugh, they consider the promiseof dear painless death, and generouslyforgive life for happeningto them.25


Summary

SUMMARY

  • This poem describes how old people no longer have to control their expressions and worry about things. They are now free to laugh as they wish. They welcome death that will release them. They have made peace with all that has occurred in their lives.


Vocabulary

Vocabulary

  • Spent – used up; depleted

  • Content – satisfied

  • Simpering - grinning

  • Jiggle – shake; rattle

  • Tamborines – a musical instrumental

  • Hollers – howls

  • Glistens – shines;glints

  • Wobble – shake;tremble

  • Brittle – fragile; weak;breakable


Old folks

  • They have spent theircontent of simpering,holding their lips thisand that way, windingthe lines betweentheir brows. Old folksallow their bellies to jiggle like slowtambourines.The hollersrise up and spillover any way they want.When old folks laugh, they free the world.

  • Lines 1 – 12 : describes how they laugh, unconcerned about their physical appearance and have a sense of freedom. They have stopped complaining and frowning and laugh quite spontaneously instead about what their bodies do.


Old folks

  • When old folks laugh, they free the world.They turn slowly, slyly knowingthe best and the worstof remembering.

  • Saliva glistens inthe corners of their mouths,their heads wobbleon brittle necks, buttheir lapsare filled with memories.When old folks laugh, they consider the promiseof dear painless death, and generouslyforgive life for happeningto them.

  • Lines 13 – 25: deals with their memories that are both good and bad.


Old folks

  • They have spent theircontent of simpering,

  • holding their lips thisand that way, windingthe lines between their brows.

  • They have gone through the phase of their life when they controlled their expressions.


Old folks

  • Old folks allow their bellies to jiggle like slowtambourines.

  • Tambourines make a celebratory sound. It has connotations of a happy, joyful sound.


Old folks

  • The hollersrise up and spillover any way they want.

    Their laughter is loud, spontaneous and uncontrolled – a sound that reflects pure joy.

    When old folks laugh, they free the world.

    Their lack of restraint inspires the rest of us to throw off some of the cares of the world.


Old folks

  • They turn slowly, slyly knowingthe best and the worstof remembering.

  • Connotations of ‘slyly’ –secrecy; cunning.

  • They have life experience and may know things that the rest of us do not know, or not have experienced.They have good and bad memories.

  • Saliva glistens inthe corners of their mouths,their heads wobbleon brittle necks

  • Saliva may be seen at the corners of their lips;

  • Their heads move about and may shake because their necks are now weakened by age – maybe osteoporosis (brittleness of bones).


Old folks

  • but their lapsare filled with memories.

  • Although their bodies may be weak they still have a fortune in memories.

  • Connotations of ‘laps’: warm, loving, comfortable

  • Children and grandchildren were carried on laps so they have experience with child rearing and a wealth of memories associated with the experiences.


Old folks

  • When old folks laugh, they consider the promiseof dear painless death,

  • Their bodies are weak and in pain, so the elderly welcome death in order to escape the physical pain. They hope for a pain-free life after death or they wish to die without any pain and suffering.


Old folks

  • and generouslyforgive life for happeningto them.

  • They forgive all the sad happenings in their life and are not bitter. They have made peace with life and know that death is inevitable.


Figures of speech

Figures of Speech

Simile

‘Old folks allow their bellies to jiggle like slow tambourines’

Their bellies are compared to tambourines because of the gentle movements and the sounds they make when they giggle or laugh quietly.


Old folks

  • Alliteration

  • slowly, slyly

  • The alliteration slows the pace of the line to match the slow movement of the old people.


Colloquialisms

Colloquialisms

  • Colloquialisms ‘folk’, ‘holler’

  • are used to make the poem sound more direct and personal.


Old folks

Tone

  • The tone is light-hearted; conversational

  • The word ‘but’ in line 19 indicates a change of tone.

  • The tonebecomes more serious. They hope their deaths would be a release from pain OR that they may have a painless death.


Old folks

Form

  • It is written in free verse using the natural rhythms of ordinary speech to establish a

  • conversational tone.


Questions

QUESTIONS

  • 1. Describe in your own words what old people have finished doing in lines one to six, according to the speaker. (2)

  • 2.Comment on the lines: ‘slyly knowing / the best and the worst /of remembering’. (3)

  • 3. Identify and explain the figure of speech in lines 6-8: ‘Old folksallow their bellies to jiggle like slowtambourines.’(3)


Old folks

  • 4. How does the diction used contribute to the theme of the poem? List and discuss a few chosen words in your answer. (3)

  • Prepared by Yesheni Nair


Old folks

MEMO

  • 1. Old people have finished containing and checking their actions and emotions - ahiding their true selves.

  • 2. The lines: ‘slyly knowing / the best and the worst / of

  • remembering’, refer to old people’s wisdom. Their lives have

  • been good and bad, but their memory accentuates the positive

  • rather than the negative. They teach the rest of us to not only

  • focus on what brings us down.


Old folks

  • 3. Simile

  • The figure of speech is used because it shows that old people have no restraints when they show their joy. Their bodies are no longer muscular and lean, but it does not matter because their laughter is sincere and it is expressed with their whole selves.

  • 4. The diction used contributes to the theme of the poem because

  • the words have a positive implication. Words, such as: ‘laugh’,

  • ‘free’, ‘memories’, ‘generously’ and ‘life’, imply that old people

  • have learned to accept life as it happens and to enjoy it as far

  • as they can without obsessing over the negative. They also

  • move away from the physical and turn towards their spiritual

  • selves because they have learned that this is where joy

  • originates. This wisdom is expressed when they laugh.


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