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Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: jade (192.168.128.---)
Date: April 27, 2006 07:59PM

i have been looking for a while now and still have nothing. I need criticisms of the poem and analysis.

Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: April 27, 2006 09:05PM

Is this the one?

Ego Tripping
by Nikki Giovanni (1973)

I was born in the Congo.
I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built the sphinx.
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light.

I am bad.

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with Allah.
I got hot and sent an ice age to Europe
to cool my thirst.
My oldest daughter is Nefertiti.
The tears from my birth pains
created the Nile.

I am a beautiful woman.

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the Sahara desert.
With a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes,
I crossed it in two hours.
I am a gazelle so swift,
so swift you can't catch me.

For a birthday present when he was three,
I gave my son Hannibal an elephant.
He gave me Rome for mother's day.

My strength flows ever on.

My son Noah built an ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day.
I turned myself into myself and was Jesus.

Men intone my loving name.
All praises all praises,
I am the one who would save.

I sowed diamonds in my back yard.
My bowels deliver uranium.
The filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels.

On a trip north,
I caught a cold and blew
my nose giving oil to the Arab world.
I am so hip even my errors are correct.
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went.
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents.

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal.
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission.
I mean...I...can fly
like a bird in the sky...

It lacks rhyme (except in the final couplet) and regular form. There's no consistent rhythmic pattern. No noticeable word music. No obvious reasons for the line breaks being where they are.

Nothing really obscure in the content, even if you do need to look up one or two references. The events recounted involving the poem's narrator don't appear to have any logical or chronological flow. They seem more like a random list of fancies. They don't conform to historical facts. For instance, Hannibal never captured Rome. Nor do they conform to known myths.

There's no mythical deity that matches the narrator, but she seems to be cast in the way the ancient Greeks regarded many of their immortals, as a self-centred, capricious character treating the world as an arena for her whims. The title sums it up.

Such a theme is fine, but is the style of this writing poetic enough to distinguish it from being just prose with line breaks? Are there any memorable phrases or lines to mark it as good poetry? Does the opening line grab your attention? Do you feel a sense of resolution and satisfaction when you read the last line? What emotion does the poem communicate to you? These are questions for you to ponder, Jade.

I'm not implying you shouldn't like this poem, or that there's anything wrong if you do or don't like it. It's your call, Jade. Over to you. What are your thoughts about it?


Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: lg (Moderator)
Date: April 27, 2006 09:50PM

Jade, the analysis, as Ian suggests is fairly easy. Nothing new or tricky here, poetically. But from the standpoint of black culture the poem is a milestone in the same vein as Langston Hughes' classic, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". Here are some sites which speak of the poem: [www.google.com] />

Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: May 01, 2006 01:03PM

That all makes sense to me. We should add that the title is sometimes seen to include "there may be a reason why", which could also be the first line of the poem, perhaps affecting the interpretation. Many online sites show a different formatting, and even different lines with capital letters, possibly important but likely not.

Still, it seems to be in the format of a riddle, no? We are asked to guess what/who the speaker is, even though s/he identifies hermself as a beautiful woman along with other identities. If that is so, I would guess the solution to the riddle as Gaia (earth mother).

[en.wikipedia.org] />

Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: Derek Shaffer (192.168.128.---)
Date: May 02, 2006 08:07PM

The title is pretty interesting, it actually means like getting high on your ego and hallucinating, thinking that you are doing all of these things.

She is trying to maybe earn her sons and daughters respect by calling them all of these famous people and supposedly giveing them all of this stuff, in her mind.

I liked the poem a lot it really made you think about the metaphors.

Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: May 04, 2006 11:38AM

Could be a pun as well? The speaker trips/stumbles on their (synesis!) own ego, that is.

Re: Help please analysis of "Ego Tripping"
Posted by: naninha09 (174.0.88.---)
Date: November 24, 2009 11:04PM

The author doesn't mean any of the things she says in the literal sense. The poem is about empowerment; she uses all of the allusions to support it (exaggerating of course). She is a black woman and an activist - whether she wants to express that black people are powerful, or that women are powerful, I don't know, but it's the main theme of her poem.

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