Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

A literary voice well-known globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights, Maya Angelou first published her poem “Still I Rise” in her similarly titled 1978 book of poetry. In the poem, she tells she is ready to overcome anything with her self-esteem. She shows how nothing can bring her down.

Still I Rise


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Analysis of Angelou’s “Still I Rise”

“Still I Rise,” a poem by Maya Angelou in her similarly titled book of poetry, published in 1978, focuses on the importance of perseverance and persistence. The poet describes the way people judge her, the obstacles she faces and the adversity in her life. However, after describing any  obstacle that she meets around, she demonstrates a positive attitude and that she does not let her problems bring her down; she continues to rise.

In the poem, Angelou talks directly to her oppressors about how she has overcome her difficulties. She states “I rise” repeatedly to show that she was able to rise even after they have knocked her down.

The first stanza of the poem starts with stating how words have no power over her. The second stanza tells about the confidence and a positive attitude that the narrator posesses. The third stanza is the comparison of certainty of nature with her resilience and determination to rise against challenges.

The fourth stanza tell that the society would like to see the character as weak and broken because of the struggles that she has faced. The fifth stanza talks about the attitude she actually has and the confidence she has grown despite all the problems she had to overcome and what kind of person she is. In the sixth stanza, she is confronting those attempting to beat her down and oppose her.

In these lines the narrator says that she is unstoppable and that she will rise no matter what they say or do. The seventh stanza focuses on the importance, power, and confidence of the narrator as a woman. The eighth stanza talks about her struggles as an African American person and how she had dealt with them. The last stanza tells the audience about what the narrator is leaving behind and all that she has gained through her fighting and perseverance.

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