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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 who have as a group been responsible for oppressing people of color..

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?/ (Lines 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
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to reveal their worth. They also were criticized as a group without any space for seeing 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 questioning and replying to

someone specifically who seems bothered by her personality. You can tell this by the way she

says things and the questions she asks. She asks does her Sassiness upset you? (Line 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 (Lines 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. (Lines 17-

20) The speaker talks in a way that overshadows all the insults 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 helps the reader you understand the liberal content and the domination she discusses

throughout the poem. She starts off before she even begun writing her poem with a quote that

matters throughout the entire poem.


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Another oOne of the refrains of the poem is also the title which shows her confidence.

Angelou repeats after the situations and questions, I rise ( Lines 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 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. (Lines 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.

Overall in 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 speakers transitions 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 may be facing the same exact thing.