Still I Rise by Maya Angelou – Poem Analysis (2023)

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

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.

Poem Analysis

Rhyme Scheme
– lies, rise
– gloom, room
– tides, rise
– eyes, cries
– hard, yard
– eyes, rise
– wide, tide
– fear, clear
– gave, slave

With the exception of the last stanza, the rhyme scheme is A,B,C,B. In the last stanza

Just like moons and like suns – simile
Comparing how she continuously raises herself up emotionally to stay strong just, like how the moon and sun rises everyday no matter what happens.
I’ll rise; I rise – repetition
By repeating these words it makes the words that much more powerful and makes it stand out and also emphasises Angelou’s message, which is to stay strong and to never allow anything or anyone stop you from fighting and living strong.
Does my sassiness upset you? ; Do you want to see me broken? ; Does my haughtiness offend you? ; Does my sexiness offend you?
By questioning the readers (“you”), it catches the reader’s attention and is affective because it makes readers realize how many people have made the person (“I”) feel and how many people may be feeling, it makes readers read the poem and take it to a more personal level.
oil wells; gold mines; diamonds – metaphor
These are often known to be expensive and valuable, and Angelou is relating these to the value of herself. She is worth just as much as everyone else and therefore she should receive just as much respect and love like others.
Shoulders falling down like teardrops – simile
Comparing how a person’s shoulders drop as they lose confidence in them self and when feeling down, similar to how tears drop done one’s face when upset or hurt.
At the meeting of my thighs

Expressing her sexuality of being a woman
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide
The colour black is usually used to create a sense of fear and evil. A “black ocean” seems to describe an ocean that is full of cruelty and how things occur unexpectedly. This may be referring to how her own life is, full of horrific and unexpected events. The “black ocean” may also be describing her own race which allows readers to understand that the poem is about racism.

Still I Rise has a positive and strong tone throughout the entire poem. The words Angelou used also makes it seem as though the character in the poem is talking to the readers. By doing so Angelou got the readers to get more personally involved in the poem emotionally which helps to make readers realize how humans are all guilty of discriminating others in some form. The poem should be read with confidence, especially in the parts “I’ll rise and “I rise” to show the strong attitude the person (“I”) has about them self. In some lines for example “’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines” the tone changes almost to a point where the reader is chuckling like how it says in the poem.

The main theme in the poem Still I Rise is discrimination. This poem portrays a strong person living with a positive attitude. I chose to do this poem because although it was written in 1978, the message portrayed in the poem is very powerful and can be related by anyone even in this time period. This poem is very straightforward which makes the message that much more meaningful and affective. At some point in life everybody experiences discrimination, although it may be in different ways and extents it is a struggle that all people go through within their lifetime. This poem teaches readers that all humans have strength that lays within us that can help to overcome any obstacles. This poem also makes readers realize the importance of having pride and hope in ourselves. The line “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave” shows the importance of having appreciation in those in previous generations for what they have done for us and what they have left. Also, the line “I am the dream and the hope of the slave” shows how Angelou believes that one person stepping up to make a difference or to have their voices heard will not only help themselves, but it also has a potential of helping those who are also suffering from the same or similar discrimination.

There are many forms of discrimination, and there is always someone in the world trying to overcome these obstacles, hence why this poem is still famous and read today. Through this poem Angelou created an inspiring message for those who were also suffering what she had suffered, racism and stereotypes due to her gender. There are also many other inspirational people who have fought for the rights of their own and also for the rights of others, and Jackie Robinson and Abraham Lincoln are prime examples. Jackie Robinson was the first black man to become a professional baseball player. He proved many people that race does not determine how well of a player someone can be. Robinson broke the separation among the different races and what he did also contributed to the Civil Rights Movement. Abraham Lincoln is considered to be one of the most memorable U.S. presidents of all times, this is because he fought for the rights of black people and freeing slaves and Southerners. What this heroic man did changed the lives of many people at that time and has also influenced the lives of many people today. The reason why people argue is to have their voices heard and because they are trying to make some kind of difference. For example, a child may cry and wine to their parents so their voices can be heard and because they want to be understood and they are too young to know any other ways of doing this but to wine or cry. Trying to have your voice heard and trying to prove your rights for yourself and for others is not easy, it requires a lot of courage and commitment, however once a person can overcome the obstacles that they face throughout their way they can create a big difference. Humans are very strong, we have so much potential that we should pride and have faith in, and we are to not allow anything to stop us from becoming a strong independent person; this strong message is portrayed throughout this poem through the eyes of a person struggling from discrimination, a struggle humans all go through and a one that everyone can relate to.

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