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Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day

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Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day

Nikki Giovanni’s poem Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day depicts how one should see and live life. This literary work may appear to be simplistic in nature but its true meaning conveys a deep-rooted picture of the social and political conditions during the author’s time. It gives importance to examining oneself before one could try to understand the world outside. The author employed thought-provoking symbols to convey the message.

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Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned writer and activist from the Black Arts and the Civil Rights Movement, is famous for her works on the Black culture and women empowerment.

Her works include Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968), Re: Creation (1970), Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement of My First Twenty-Five Years of Being a Black Poet (1971), Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (1978), and Blues: For all the Changes (1998). One of her earliest influences was her grandmother who infused to her how vital individual action is to initiate change whether it results to either losing or winning.

Among her academic influences were a B.A. in History and graduate studies in both social work and fine arts.

Her poem Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day reflected social and political significances during the Civil Rights Movement. As early as the 1600’s, African Americans have undergone oppression and racial discrimination. And for the centuries that followed, they have voiced out their appeal for the recognition of their rights. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States lasted for twelve years from 1955 up to 1968.

1970’s was a period of revolution and change. It was marked by Martin Luther King’s assassination, riots in several cities across the United States, shootings at Orangeburg, and a number of demonstrations. These events have had inspired Giovanni in writing the poem.

What life is and how it should be lived is the main theme of Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day. Giovanni presented an interesting view of life by using metaphor as literary tool in her poem. Just like a cotton candy on a rainy day, life should be lived despite obstructions. Cotton candy is sweet and melts quickly, similar to life which is pleasant as the poet has noted. Rainy day, on the other hand, was used in the poem to pertain to loneliness. Just like a cotton candy on a rainy day, life, too, was sweet so it should go on even in the face of distress.

In the third verse Giovanni wrote, ‘I am not an easy woman to want.’ Here, the author writes as she feels, telling that what she does is not always agreeable to some people because of her autonomous tone. In the fourth verse, the era of 1970’s was marked by loneliness, she says. People during her time share the same feeling of disillusionment with regards to their efforts to attain social equity. This issue that they were raising has been the same issue raised by other African-Americans almost three centuries ago. Things seem to go out of hand, then. The transformation seemed to be far from reach.

People, at that time, may have felt exhausted and hopeless of their futile attempts as mentioned in the fifth verse. The verse says that unlike life, the feeling of loneliness does not persist. Giovanni continued to the sixth verse telling that life must go on. It happens that in certain points of our lives we pause for a while to let pass of the ambiguity that deter us from moving on. When the course gets clear, one team will move along while the other one stays. In which team should we belong? Giovanni suggests that we move on with our lives because we don’t know what is ahead of us.

            Rainy day was used in the poem as the metaphor of loneliness. It can also mean differently, it can be good or bad depending on who is going to view it. It can be a representation of a blessing which enhances the essence of life or a tragedy that ruins the form of life. The poem tells the readers that life is not something to be feared upon, but rather something to be cherished. We live only once and we should utilize it to the fullest.

            This literary work has touched the hearts of many. Those who read this poem may have felt like they were reading themselves. This is because most of the emotions we feel are also felt by others. Only, we differ with the way we deal with our emotions. Some will do something about while the others will just conform. In the end, our thoughts and actions will define us.

            Examining the picture that was imprinted on our minds by the poem, we see how the supporters and activists of the Civil Rights Movement have felt when their efforts appeared to be fruitless. After more than a decade of overwhelming display of mass action, the following years have not been completely welcoming for the African American appeal. Still, social policies and even the government have not yet fully addressed the needs of these people. How many more demonstrations and generations are needed before this will be realized? It is but natural for one to feel frustrated of this phenomenon. We see at present that several people feel this way. How can we deal with this? What lesson can we get from these repeated occurrences? Giovanni has provided an answer.

In the poem, both loneliness and life were presented the way it was felt by people during Giovanni’s time. Each one of us was given a chance to become an agent of change through our own little efforts, through our individual action.  We may never know what the outcome may be, but difficulties should not deter us completely with our toil.

It is truly a meaningful and solipsistic piece by Nikki Giovanni. Anyone could relate even though it carries with it the social context of the 1970’s. The beauty and essence of Giovanni’s work continue to inspire readers to go on living a meaningful life.


Giovanni, N. (1978). Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day.   Retrieved May 18, 2009, from http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976851315

Cite this Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day

Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day. (2016, Jul 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/cotton-candy-on-a-rainy-day/

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