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.
                                                                                         – Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

Still I Rise is a powerful, empowering poem all about the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice. It is one of Maya Angelou’s most popular poems. This great poetess Maya Angelou presents in ‘Still I Rise” the average black American woman who rises like the phoenix each time she is bent by oppression. Here, she triumphantly asserts with conviction how she continues to rise with renewed vigor.

When read by those who understand the meaning of repeated wrongdoing, the poem becomes a kind of anthem, a beacon of hope for the oppressed and downtrodden.

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.

It is a reminder of the abuse of power by those who sit in government, the judiciary, in the military and in the police force. For members of the public, for society, it sends out the clear, repeated message of hope. No matter the circumstances, there must always be hope to cling on to.

This stirring poem is packed full of figurative language and when read through comes over as a sort of secular hymn to the oppressed and abused. The message is loud and clear – no matter the cruelty, regardless of method and circumstance, the victim will rise up, the slave will overcome adversity.

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?
Although written with the black slavery and civil rights issues in mind, Still I Rise is universal in its appeal. Any innocent individual, any minority, any nation subject to oppression or abuse could understand the underlying theme – don’t give in to torture, bullying, humiliation and injustice.
All in all, an inspirational poem with powerful repetitive energy, a universal message and a clear, positive pulse throughout.
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.

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