Analysis of the Poem “Still, i Rise” by Maya Angelou

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Analysis of the Poem “Still, i Rise” by Maya Angelou

This essay will analyze Maya Angelou’s poem “Still, I Rise.” It will explore the themes of resilience, empowerment, and overcoming oppression that Angelou addresses in her poem. The piece will discuss the poetic devices she uses, such as repetition, metaphor, and imagery, and how these contribute to the poem’s powerful message. It will also consider the poem’s historical and cultural context and its relevance in contemporary discussions on race and gender. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Analysis.

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In this poem “Still, I Rise” by Maya Angelou an African American female poet that provides an interesting blend of tones: humorous and defiant, comical and furious, self-assured and bitterness. In the poem, the use of different literary devices was used such as repetition, rhyme, symbolism, imagery, hyperbole, metaphor, rhetorical question. Angelou shows signs of repetition throughout the poem, for example, she repeats the phrase ‘still I rise’. Using the expression ‘still I rise’ she is declaring that whatever challenge comes her way she will face it and she will continue to rise from it.

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‘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’. To me, this stanza shows how much respect and confidence she has despite the difficulties.

In fact, by using apostrophes to identify the oppressor character as ‘you,’ Angelou implies the reader may also be participating in oppressive social structures and attitudes. The first word “You” from the poem is significant. This is a poem that is aimed at others. The poem describes how a black woman is willing to speak up for herself and the fellow African American people especially black women. When Angelou wrote this poem, it was on a personal level. This was not just any poem, it was also a promise she made to herself that her success would not be determined by hatred and negativity that goes through society. Throughout this poem, Angelou is showing both anger and confidence. She is initially puzzled by how the oppressors did not want African Americans to succeed or become more than the image society holds towards African Americans.

Angelou states that her happiness makes the oppressors miserable, and she would like to know why that is? She taunts her oppressors, Realizing the effect of her behaviors and personality on the fact that she confuses them with her power and confidence. She then goes on to insist that the color of her skin inherent humanity, importance, strength, and elegance. Angelou then expresses that ‘like dust,’ a subtle literal depiction: God created all humans the same from ‘dust’ in the Bible, and once they die, humans return to ‘dust.’ Angelou acknowledges the full humanity of herself by asserting that she is ‘like dust;’ she is just about as much a creation of God as anybody else. To me, this poem fundamentally is about dignity and trust. Angelou describes in the poem how her self-esteem conquers all. She reveals how nothing will come down on her. She will rise to any occasion and nothing will hold her back, not even the color of her skin.

Maya Angelou compares herself specifically to what a slave dreams of, that is, equality and freedom. She calls herself the “ ambassador” of equal rights, and hence she identifies herself as a high figure who will take the first step to fight racism and equal rights. Maya wrote this poem in a very unique way, for most of the poem that instantly guides the reader through the poem, there is a rhyme every other line. In this poem, creativity is dominant, particularly after Maya asks her oppressors. Most of the images are conveyed by similes and metaphors, which give readers a clear view of what Maya is trying to convey. In the line “You may shoot me with your words,” Angelou compares every hurtful word that people say to the fact that those words feel like a bullet being fired at her. Maya uses such powerful vivid imagery that allowed readers to develop a better understanding of how being discriminated against feels. This shows that words can have a very powerful effect on someone, especially when using words in a hateful way Because words can mark someone like a gunshot wound they mark forever.

The that states “The sun will always rise tomorrow” explicitly relates to this simile, as Angelou connotes to the reader by contrasting herself to the sun that she is certain tomorrow she will always ‘ rise ‘ again just like the sun, no regardless of what happens to her. It tells us that she was proud of herself and that she is a strong and independent woman. In her poem, Maya Angelou uses literary methods to express effectively what she was trying to convey to the listener. She conveys to the public her strong, focused and positive approach to racism, Angelou’s poem encourages the readers to be confident and optimistic at all times, and never let anything get in the way you want to do in your life.

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Analysis of the Poem “Still, I Rise” by Maya Angelou. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved from