Maya Angelou, originally named Marguerite Johnson, was born in 1928. Over the course of her lifetime, she has worn many hats -- as author, poet, playwright, singer and civil rights activist, among other professions. Her poem "Weekend Glory" discusses themes about freedom, the life of a black woman and the beauty of thrift. She still inspires many, including former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, with her powerful works.
Angelou opens her poem by talking about "clichty folks." The word "clichty" is not found in the dictionary, but she defines her made-up word by describing how clichty people act. An uptight, judgemental set of people, they look down on those with less money and power. Her poem goes on to describe how the character, a black woman working at a factory, lives a happy and simple life. The poem compares how carefree and happy the black woman is to the rich people, burdened with worries of too much money.
Value of Money
One underlying theme is how money does not buy everybody happiness. The poet describes how people of more means try to purchase the enviable freedom the main character already feels every Saturday night, by buying big condos, or racking up debt for ever newer cars. Angelou makes her point by describing how the character feels best by putting in her hard work, getting paid, then living within her means. She takes part of her money out to donate to her church, gets her hair done, then spends an evening out on the town with friends.
Happiness in Simplicity
The character conveys a sense of satisfaction with her station in life. She says that those with more money and power "accuse" her of living day to day, when in fact, everyone is really in the same situation, just with different circumstances. She is confident and proud of herself, getting dressed up because she wants to and not because she feels ashamed of her position. The character says she thinks other folks are actually jealous of her, because she pays her bills, she's not in debt and she doesn't have a care in the world.
The Big Picture
The author paints a simple but effective picture of a black woman who works hard, in a time where there were limited career options for African-Americans, let alone women. The poem was written in 1978, a short time after the civil rights movement. Despite the political and social upheaval, the character tells those who might be judging her that her life "sure ain't hell." She might not have every opportunity in life, but she works with what she has, and is truly happy. Angelou shows readers that the power of confidence and the contentment of living within your means is achievable and possibly, to those miserable with their stacks of cash, enviable.
- "Weekend Glory"; Maya Angelou; American Poems
- American Poems: Biography of Maya Angelou
- Academy of Achievement: Maya Angelou Interview: January 22, 1997
- "Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women"; Maya Angelou; 1978
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images