“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

As Maya expresses herself, it is imperative to assert that she achieved her goal. In the poem “Still I Rise”, the title itself is a reminiscence of what she encountered in the quest to accomplish her role in poetry.

At the commencement of the poem, stanza 1 line 1, the poet used euphemism “…you may write me down…” to mean that she was ready to get into history books as a relentless civil rights activist. Similarly, in stanza 1 line 2, the poet illustrated that “…your bitter, twisted lies…,” this expressed the behavior and perception of her audience. The last line in stanza 1 indicates that the poet struggled with perseverance. In fact, she used simile “…like dust…” and a pun “… I’ll rise…” in stanza 1 line 4 to express further on her desire to rise.

In stanza 2, the poet questioned if her liveliness upsets targeted audience (line 1). In stanza 2 lines 2, the poet intended to know why the audience got tormented with gloom, simile was used in line 3 when the poet expressed that she “….walk like…oil well…” which was within her living room. This line in stanza 2 expressed how the poet succeeded in fighting for rights of civil society. 

In the third stanza, line 1 Maya used simile “…like moon and like the sun…” to compare her stature. Moreover, line 2 also affirmed hope of arising since tides also rise and fall, but they continue to exist. The last two lines in stanza three; lines 3 and 4 gave her strength, simile “…like hopes springing high, I will rise…”

In stanza 4 line 1, the poet used euphemism “…see me broken…” broken is used instead of fractured to express the level at which the poet perceived her audience. It shows that the poet blamed the audience for lack of empathy despite the hardship and sufferings she went through. However, when reading through stanza 4 lines 2–4, the poet used melopoeia “…Bowed head and lowered eyes? And simile “…shoulders falling down like teardrops…weakened by my soulful cries?” to express emotional feelings about terrible encounters she went through.

Maya Angelou

In stanza 5 line 1, the poet wondered if her pride could have offended the targeted audience “… my haughtiness offends you…” In line 2, the poet rhetorically questioned the targeted audience that “…don’t you take it awful hard…” However, a simile is used in stanza five line 3 and 4 “… I laugh like I’ve got gold mines… Diggin’ in my own backyard…” which expressed the fact that despite all the hardship that the poet went through, she kept the jovial mood as if nothing was wrong.

Now, in stanza 6 lines 1, 2 and 3, the poet used hyperbole “…you may shoot me with your words…you may cut me with your eyes… you may kill me with your hatefulness…” and followed by a simile in line 4, “… but still, like air, I’ll rise…” which strongly affirmed that Maya supposed that all tribulations would be gone and that she would rise again. 

In stanza 7 lines 1 and 2, the poet used anaphora at the beginning of the sentences to affirm her statements “… Does my sexiness upset you? … Does it come as a surprise …” Continually, she showcased her dancing prowess in line 3 and 4. In fact, the poet used simile in line 3 to express more about her body “…thighs…” However, an idiom is also used in lines 3 and 4 “… having a diamond at the meeting of my thighs…” it shows how she valued herself gender wise being a female.

In stanza 8 line 1, Maya the poet reiterated that she rose out of huts of history’s shame. This creates a feeling that she underwent shameful encounters in the quest to fight for civil rights of the vulnerable population. In furtherance, stanza 8 lines 2-3 exemplifies that Maya rose from a past rooted in pain. Moreover, the poet used hyperbole in stanza 8 line 5 “… I’m a black ocean…” and also alliteration in line 6 “… willing and swelling…” to create a lasting memory that is difficult to forget as far as her suffering is concerned. More importantly, the poet affirmed that despite the difficulties, she rose up again.

Finally, in stanza 9, Maya reiterated that she did not only leave behind nights of terror but also fear (stanza 9, line 1). It is a reprieve that the poem ended when Maya exemplified how she arose into daybreak, very wondrous and clear (stanza 9, lines 3-5). She proudly stated that the “… wondrous daybreak brought ancestral gifts to her, being the dream and hope of slaves. Also, the poet used repetition of the word “I rise” at the tail end of the poem. The identical rhyme was effectively and purposely used to symbolize that at last, she rose.


Extract from a poem “STILL I RISE” is authored by Maya Angelou who strived to explicate her role as a civil rights activist, an author, historian, poet, dancer, stage, playwright, and screen producer, songwriter, director, singer, and performer.

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