Nikki Giovanni is one of my favorite poets and you could see why in this poem I like it. I am going to break it down in the end the elements in this poem that make it stand out.
EGO TRIPPIN by NIKKI GIOVANNI
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 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 Nefferttiti
the tears from my birth pains created the Nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on a forest and burned out the
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 new/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 backyard
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 east to reach west – 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 …
Now I am going to try dissect this poem and why it works for me:
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 glows every one hundred years falls into /the center giving divine perfect light: In this first stanza, we get geographical location ( Shout out to my homecountry Congo!!), historical references, and finally the claim that the narrator is ancient and should get in consequence given respect because of it.
I AM BAD: Now go watch Michael Jackson says it to get it.
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my thirst./My oldest daughter is Nefferttiti/ the tears from my birth pains created the Nile:Once again, we have the historical references and the geopraphical references but more importantly we see how powerful she is in the actions she performs.
I am a beautiful woman: Just what she says.
For the following stanzas, she sticks to the same theme of power and the way she yields that power in such effective and indisputable ways. She is almost saying that if you know your Bible and your history, you will find evidences of her power.
And to end this analysis, I would say that these two lines: “I am so perfect, so divine, so ethereal, so surreal/ I cannot be comprehend/ except by my permission” and ” I mean … I … can fly/ like a bird in the sky …” capture very well all the themes she has explored in her poem. This is as empowering as it can get without getting cheesy because her imagination is backed by facts.