How can I compare the way the poets present feelings of empowerment or oppression in "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou and "The Slave's Dream" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

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The two poems present two completely different tones and experiences which draw from the experience of slavery. In a comparison essay, I might begin with a thesis something like this:

Although the speaker in "The Slave's Dream" reflects the deep injustices of slavery shown through a third-person narrator, the first person voice in "Still I Rise" encourages those impacted by slavery and racism to draw strength from the history of their ancestors.

In your question, you focus on two key words: empowerment and oppression. Angelou's poem definitely has a tone of empowerment. She uses words like "rise," "tides," and "hopes" to convey her unwavering perseverance. The repetition of "still I'll rise" throughout the poem and five times in the final stanza alone heightens the reader's sense of the speaker's strength. When she faces situations entrenched in racism where she is expected to bow her head or lower her eyes, she knows the history that guides her:

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