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Poetry Analysis of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise"

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Cassidy Honish

on 2 June 2014

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Transcript of Poetry Analysis of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise"

Meaning of the Title
Put in Your Own Words
Meaning of the Poem
Poetic Devices
No matter what happens or what is thrown at Maya Angelou, she will always rise.
The theme of "Still I Rise" is really about self respect, and confidence. In the poem, she reveals how she will overcome anything with her self-esteem. She shows how nothing can get her down. She will rise to any occasion and nothing, not even her skin color will hold her back.

This theme helps convey her message because at some points, when she's reading it, she laughs. This emphasizes her self-confidence even more. In the poem, she also asks rhetorical questions to showcase her pride.

Angelou uses different examples and scenarios that people might do to her such as, "you may write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies..." but she will always rise above it.
Maya Angelou portrays confidence and will to always get up when put down.
Ultimately representing black people, women
Talking About:
Many people can talk down on and degrade blacks and women but it won't make them stop from rising above it.
Why the Poem was Written:
To be the voice of those unheard/degraded/put down/un-noticed.
Time Period:
During the civil rights time period - 1950's/1960's
In the "Jim Crow" South
Poem's Attitude:
Determined, Strong
No major shit except in structure after eighth stanza.

Number of Lines:
Forty Three
Number of Stanzas:
Repetitive - "I rise"
Beats Per Line:
9,6,9,6 the 8,7,8,7 then 6,7,6,3
Irregular, free verse
Significance to the Deliberate Choices:
It's all for emphasis
"like dust, I'll rise"
"I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide"
"You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness,"
Assertive, Confident, Pride and Sarcasm (when read aloud for emphasis)
Point of View:
Maya Angelou ( she is telling the poem)
"Oil wells pumping in my living room", etc.
Repeats "I Rise" and "You may."
"Still I Rise"
Poetry Analysis of Maya Angelou's
"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.
Second Look at the Title
When I take a second look at the title, nothing changed. The title still means the same thing to me when I first read it.
Historical and Cultural Context
Influences on the Author (in her life):
Being black and a women during the time period that she was / when this poem was written.
Angelou was sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend in 1937.

Influences on the Author (in society):
For women rights in that time period
Responding to the growing African American Civil Rights Movement in the United States, from the 1950's to the early 1970's
0:43 Seconds Poem Starts
Maya Angelou Reciting "Still I Rise"
Full transcript