A Summary of the Poem "Alone" by Maya Angelou

by Philip Foster
Maya Angelou was an actress and dancer in her younger days.

Maya Angelou was an actress and dancer in her younger days.

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Maya Angelou is a world-renowned poet, novelist, teacher and civil rights activist who was born in St. Louis, Mo. in 1928. According to Maya Angelou.com, she has published more than 30 bestselling works over the years, including both fiction and nonfiction prose and poetry. Angelou's poem "Alone" expresses the notion that no one can live a happy life without companionship.

First Stanza

The first stanza of the poem introduces the restless narrator, who lays awake at night pondering the meaning of life. The narrator is never revealed as male or female, which reiterates the notion that the speaker could be anyone in the world. As the narrator thinks of ways to fulfill the yearning within his/her soul, he/she comes to a stark realization regarding human nature. The narrator goes on to make the bold statement that nobody on Earth can make it on their own.

Second Stanza

The second stanza dives deeper into the idea of companionship among humans by discussing social stature and wealth. The narrator goes on to say that even the richest people on earth cannot be truly happy without a sturdy foundation of friends and family. The tone shifts to slightly humorous as the narrator describes how the wives of the wealthiest men "run around like banshees" and how their children, despite their pampered lifestyle, always "sing the blues."

Third Stanza

The third and final stanza of the poem tries to drive home the importance of kinship among the human race. The narrator warns the reader of a great storm building over the world and the damaging winds that are soon to come. The storm is the result of rich men and their meaningless lives, which, in the narrator's eyes, has a detrimental effect on all of mankind. The ending of the poem leaves the reader feeling that the state of society is beyond redemption.


While Angelou's poem features three complete stanzas, a recurring phrase can be found between each of them. The three-line phrase further expresses the importance of kinship. Angelou's use of repetition helps tie each of the stanzas together and drives home the notion that nobody can make it on their own. While the phrase stays the same, it takes on new meaning after every stanza. For example, after stanza two it can be interpreted that if rich and poor folks worked together, the world would be a better place.

About the Author

Philip Foster has been writing professionally since 2010. His work has been featured in the literary-arts magazine "The PEEL" and the weekly newspaper "The Mountain Xpress." Foster is an expert in various extreme sports. He cooked in a restaurant that offered organic and vegetarian cuisine for over three years. Foster received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Appalachian State University.

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