Analysis of "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

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 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.


Jewelz Lopez

Caldwell University

20 October 2016

Analysis of "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

In Maya Angelou’s piece “Still I Rise”, in the first stanza she uses words that prompt a negative tone. She uses the words “bitter”, “twisted”, and “dust”. If you look at “dust” in its context, it connotes belittlement and degradation. The fact that Angelou is comparing herself to dust, “ But still, like dust, I rise”, portrays that she feels she is being treated as insignificant as dust in the moment she is describing. However, she ends with positivity , “I’ll rise”. She uses this tone to then taunt her antagonist throughout the poem to show them that they cannot knock her down. This builds the element of inspiration in the poem, “ Did you want to see me broke? / Bowed head and lowered eyes? … Does my haughtiness offend you?” Her ability to overcome is boundless and inevitable. She compares this to the rising of the moon and sun, which happens everyday, almost like clockwork. It is something that can be expected. The poem ends with pride and wraps up the experiences she is describing throughout the poem, “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave/ I am the dream and hope of the slave. I rise/ I rise/ I rise/”. Maya Angelou refers to racism and her overcoming the history of her culture throughout the poem. She will not let stigma and stereotyping bring her down; she will not let anyone’s expectation for her behavior or self esteem shape her. This context further increases the credibility of the inspiration that is built.

She is inspirational in this poem because her ability to overcome is incredible and certain - just as my own could be, or anyone else who is reading this poem. It is an anthem that embodies the attitude that you are your own strength, you have what it takes to make a better future and make a difference in someone else’s life. Your attitude has to be correct, you have to show your antagonist what they are afraid to see - your perseverance, your strength.

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