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"Still I Rise" -Maya Angelou

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by

Jen Ellison

on 21 April 2014

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Transcript of "Still I Rise" -Maya Angelou

"Still I Rise" -Maya Angelou
Poem
Analysis
The historical backgrund of this poem is paramount to understanding the significance of what is written. The poem is full of pride and tactfully written to scoff at the discrimination and prejudice surrounding those of color during and prior to the Civil Rights' Movement. Angelou strategically poses rhetorical questions to provoke intrigue and highlight the limitations and expectations placed on African Americans. It is through rhetorical questioning that Angelou makes her strongest argument.
She held to the unshakable faith and values of the traditional African-American family, community and culture.
The poem is a "call to assertiveness and pride for blacks"
Also, the poem is an "outcry to prejudice [and] humiliation"

Poetic Features Continued
Angelou illustrates the extent to which words and intellect elevate one's position and the way the verse itself demonstrates the fallacious nature of proclamations made by the alleged "superior" race. The opening lines of the poem "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" demonstrates the resilience of Angelou and the true ignorance of those that discount her abilities, and by relation, her fellow men and women.
Still Rising...Audience
As she transitions to the fourth stanza, Angelou immerses the reader in the sentiment of the Civil Rights' Movement. The imagery created in the stanza as she writes, "Did you want to see me broken?/ Bowed head and lowered eyes?/ Shoulders falling down like teardrops,/ Weakened by my soulful cries?," places the reader in the position of those who are oppressed by society.
Back to History
"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." Again, Angelou is painting a picture with her words of the history that she has endured and that people continue to endure in the face of oppression and discrimination.
I Rise
The mantra that is echoed over and over throughout this poem is "I rise." Angelou repeatedly makes this clear declarative statement to demonstrate that no matter what she faces or what is faced in life, the most important lesson to remember is to rise again. In the context of this poem, rising is necessary in fulfilling a cultural cause; for those that face oppression or obstacles in other ways, rising is paramount to facing life in general.
Historical Background
Maya Angelou was a Renaissance woman and a civil rights' activist born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Poem published 1978
References
Hart and Vine. (2014). "Maya Angelou Global Renaissance Woman." Retrieved from www.mayaangelou.com/bio/
YouTube video. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/andstillirise
Full transcript