The Beauty of "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

Throughout high school, this poem appeared a lot in my English classes. Maya Angelou is a name many recognize from her amazing pieces. In honor of Black Women’s History Month, I want to reflect on my favorite poem of hers, “Still I Rise.”

 

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 backyard.

 

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’.

When reading this poem, the first thing that comes to mind is confidence. Her words “Does my sassiness upset you?” along with  “Does my sexiness upset you?” speaks a lot about women in more ways than you think. These two stanzas alone shows how women can stand up for themselves and that they are more than just looks. Her words convey her confidence along with power. I think this is important because women nowadays aren’t completely equal to men, but they can be.

It’s important to consider this in your everyday lives, no matter what the color of your skin is or the gender you identify as. She says quite well, “You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise”, it shows her strength and her courage. She doesn’t let anyone walk all over her or bring her down.

The next part I want to point out is the line, “’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room/”, this line conveys that she might not have a lot of money, but she walks with pride regardless. This line is beautiful as well as “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” Here she tells that she will live life a free woman, but she still holds the molding and the lessons of her ancestors. I think this poem dug deep into her heart as she reflects on herself and her ancestors. Maya Angelou is someone who needs to be recognized not only for her confidence but her strength.