You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Short Poem Analysis
"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou is a powerful and empowering poem that celebrates resilience, self-affirmation, and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Through its bold language, vivid imagery, and rhythmic flow, the poem presents a message of strength and defiance in the face of oppression and discrimination.
The poem's title, "Still I Rise," immediately establishes a tone of resilience and determination. This title is then echoed in the repeated refrain throughout the poem, reinforcing the central theme of rising above challenges.
The poem addresses the speaker's past and present oppressors, asserting that their attempts to demean and oppress her have not succeeded. The speaker's declaration that she is "the dream and the hope of the slave" carries historical weight, connecting her struggle to the broader legacy of those who fought for freedom and equality.
Throughout the poem, Angelou employs vivid and striking imagery to convey her message. The imagery of rising like "dust," "air," and "sun" conveys a sense of indomitable strength and transformation. The mention of "oil wells" and "gold mines" alludes to the idea that the speaker's value is not diminished by external circumstances.
The poem's rhythm and rhyme scheme create a lively and rhythmic flow, resembling the cadence of a spoken word performance. This rhythm adds to the poem's assertive and confident tone.
"Still I Rise" celebrates the speaker's resilience and self-assuredness, emphasizing the importance of self-worth and inner strength. The poem's message resonates with themes of empowerment, identity, and the ability to overcome obstacles through unwavering determination. Through its passionate language and empowering imagery, the poem inspires readers to stand tall and rise above adversity, embracing their own inherent worth.