Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a African American poet and award-winning author known for poems like "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" and "Phenomenal Woman". Ms.Angelou born April 4th in St. Louis, Missouri is known not only for her poems but for being a civil right activist. She has had many accomplishments from reciting " On the Pulse of The Morning" at President Clinton's inauguration to receiving two NAACP Image Awards. Sadly, Ms.Angelou passed away on May 28th, 2014.
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a visual representation and recital of the poem

Literal Explication

Overall, Maya Angelou is talking about the African American community and those trying to bring them down. She is saying no matter what they think, say or do to them, Their confidence will stay and they will continue to keep their heads up. This is seen in the poem in the following stanza , " You may write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies. You may tread me in the very dust but still, like dust I Rise." She also taunts the who she is speaking to by asking if her confidence is the reason they continue to try to bring her down; This can be seen in the following, " 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."
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The speaker is a women that is fairly self confident and does not care about other's opinions nor actions. She has a tone of calmness; She does not seem upset or even angry at whoever is acting this way towards her. She is speaking exactly to whoever is trying to upset her.


This poem would be considered a sonnet once examined. The poem follows a pattern; It goes from telling how the person has tried to this courage to taunting and showing the confidence to what one can consider words on encouragement or comparing one to nature or a pervious event. Due to the set up, this poem was formed by free association. It always circles back to the speaker saying she will get over what is said and will continue to walk with confidence. There is mostly simple sentences but there are a few complicated. The punctuation in this poem varies; There are periods, question marks, and commas. There are lots of end-stopped lines. The punctation used makes the poem seem like it is more of a conversation rather then just stating. The title "Still I Rise" relates to the poem because it tells that no matter what one goes through, they will get through it and pick their head back up and keep it moving.


The language in this poem would be considered colloquial and there is a few hints of southern slang throughout the poem like " 'Cause and Diggin' ". While looking at the words like sexiness and sassiness, the get that the mood is very self-assured. The main allusion is the reference to slavery and/or her ancestors. There is greatly use of figurative language in the poem. For example in the fourth stanza, there is the simile " Shoulders falling down like teardrops" and this saying the they expect her to be slumped over in sadness due to their words. Another is the metaphor " I am the dream and the hope of the slave" and this is saying that her ancestors ,the slaves, would be proud of her accomplishment of not being brought down by people who brought them down. There is also lots of imagery; One example is "Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines 'Diggin in my own backyard"; This makes one think of her being a very happy person due to the richest but it also makes one think of gold being in ones backyard.

Musical Devices

There is an irregularly rhyme scheme; There is only one rhyme and that is "a". All of the words that do rhyme are going to rhyme with "rise". In some stanza its every other line that rhymes while in some only one line will rhyme. It makes it satisfying by not having it appear to formal and it goes along with the slang used. There is a consonance repetition of "Still I Rise".

Artwork inspired by Maya Angelou's poem