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Tia Castor

Ms. Jacobs

English 132

October 31, 2017

Poetry Analysis: Still I Rise

In Still I Rise by Maya Angelou it speaks about a strong African American woman

who addresses those who clearly overlook and undervalue her and all black women. To better

help explain that she uses does it through the speaker and the situations throughout the poem.

She is speaking up for African American women, her ancestors, and as well as for herself. The

speaker highlights critical situations of racial discrimination throughout the poem by using a

confident persona.

Maya Angelou structures her poem in a way that points out a specific audience, white

people for example. Historically, African American women were looked at as inferior and

worthless. African Americans, especially women, would walk around with their heads down,

ashamed of how others viewed them. The speaker explains these years of oppression and

discrimination toward African Americans when she begins: You may write me down in history/

With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt/ But still, like dust. Ill rise

(Lines 1-4). She continues, Did you want to see me broken?/ Bowed head with lowered eyes?/

Shoulders falling down like tear drops,/ Weakened by my soulful cries?/ (13-16). Angelou pulls

realistic situations females used to face every single day and uses it as a way to show the mental

torture females faced and the effects of being trampled on through years of frustration. For

instance, African American women were thought to be lazy and incompetent before they were

even able to reveal their worth. They also were criticized as a group without any space for seeing
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them as an individual. The poem highlights situations where the speaker responds to typical

criticism amongst African American women. White people see African Americans in a certain

way; they expected the speaker to walk around with her head bowed and her to not be a strong

woman. She is strong, however and confident as well.

The speaker transitions from critiquing common disparagements to explaining herself as

a strong African American to someone who is starting to directly replying to someone

specifically. You can tell this by the way she says things and the questions she asks. She asks

does her Sassiness upset you? (5). Meaning are you shocked that she is not like what others

thought her to be. She next inquires Why are you beset with gloom? /Cause I walk like Ive got

oil wells/ Pumping in my living room (6-8). These lines reveal a person who uses figurative

language to show how she has richness at her finger tips. She goes on to say, Does my

haughtiness offend you?/ Dont you take it awful hard/ Cause I laugh like Ive got gold mines/

Diggin in my backyard. The speaker talks in a way that overshadows all the blather people

used to say about African American women. She does not talk in an arrogant way, but more so in

a way that gets the readers to sympathize with her. The speaker goes from showing how rooted

and upset she is to someone who is finally breaking free and standing up to the rumors and the

lies of what people think she is to who she really is as a person. The metaphoric examples

Angelou uses better help you understand the liberal content and the domination she discusses

throughout the poem.

One of the refrains of the poem is also the title. Angelou repeats after the situations and

questions, I rise (4, 12, 24, 30, 32, 36, 38, 41-43). This an ultimate display of strength and

confidence. The speaker is reassuring herself and others that regardless of what she has endured,

she will be victorious. In some of the final lines, she notes, Out of the huts of historys shame/ I
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rise/ Up from a past thats rooted in pain/ I rise/ Im a black ocean, leaping and wide,/ Welling

and swelling I bear in the tide. (29-34). This is someone who is knows exactly where she came

from, but is not allowing for it to limit her. The speaker knows her power and the impact it could

cause and no matter what, as she says throughout the poem, she will rise.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou is a poem that explains the injustice and oppression the

speaker is facing. Through critical situations of racial discrimination and a confident persona, the

speaker transition throughout the poem helps the reader see no matter what people may say or

think about her, or other black women, she still will overcome. She rises above all the

discrimination and all of the hate that has traveled through her ancestors and every African

American woman who maybe facing the same exact thing.