Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Project By: Rebecca Horn

About the Author

  • Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri
  • She died on May 28, 2014
  • In 2001, she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal
  • She is known for her series of 6 autobiographies, including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and her volume of poetry
  • As a young girl, she won a scholarship to study dance & drama at San Francisco's Labor School but dropped out at the age of 14 to become San Fran's first African-American female cable car conductor.
  • She finished high school & gave birth to her son Guy.
  • She became passionate for music, dance, and poetry
  • She had first hand experience with racism, single parenting, overcoming poverty, creating wealth and being an important figure in the civil rights movement


  • does not tell a story
  • expresses confidence, stubbornness & fortitude
  • mood: empowering
  • speaker: one who has been brought down by peers & has been subjected to inferiority
  • tone: fierce, confident, passionate, intense


  • stanzas of 4 lines-- last stanza is 15 lines for closure or emphases, leaves the reader feeling inspired
  • free form; it helps express emotion and the speaker's thoughts
  • movement: first stanzas display pain and being broken but the last stanza displays that the speaker is moving towards a happy place, a good place free from her past "Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear, I rise."
  • syntax: 17 sentences, some simple and some complicated
  • punctuation: end-stopped lines & enjambment lines
  • title: "Still I Rise" it's the theme throughout the whole poem; even through all of the pain and hard times, the speaker is still going to come out strong


  • colloquial & simple to help the reader understand and connect with the poem better
  • words that stood out to me: weakened, cries, dirt, lies, gloom, upset, teardrop, shoot, cut, kill, shame, pain- negative connotations
  • words that stood out to me: rise, moon, sun, springing, diamonds, sexiness, daybreak- positive connotations, confidence, hopeful
  • allusions: "I am the dream and the hope of the slave." -allusion to slavery, and the speaker being able to do what generations in the past could not
  • similes- "But still, like dust, I'll rise." "Just like hopes springing high, still I'll rise." "I laugh like I've got gold mines digging' in my own back yard." These similes help us understand what the speaker means by "rising"
  • metaphors- "I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling I bear in the tide." "You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness" These metaphors help us analyze the meaning of the poem more clearly

Musical Devices

  • rhyme: regular- ABCB DEFE
  • the tonal effect of the rhythm/meter puts emphasis on certain words & helps bring out the mood of the whole poem
  • no alliteration or assonance

Literal Meaning

  • Stanza 1: you can try to tear me down, but I'll stay standing
  • Stanza 2: are you annoyed that I have confidence and pride?
  • Stanza 3: like moons, suns, and tides, I'll rise
  • Stanza 4: why do you want to see me broken? why do you want to see me cry?
  • Stanza 5: does my superiority offend you? you sure take it awful hard
  • Stanza 6: are you surprised that I'm sexy and I'm happy?
  • Stanza 7: I rise when people bring me down, I rise from a painful past. I am leaving behind terror and fear into a happy world, a clear future. I am doing it for my ancestors, I am speaking up for the ones that could not. I rise.
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Works Cited

  1. "Maya Angelou." Goodreads. 2015 Goodreads Inc, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.
  2. "Biography." Continuing the Life Work of Maya Angelou. Caged Bird Legacy, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
  3. Pang, Aminah. "My Thoughts about Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”." CSMB Student Blog. © 2015, 19 May 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.
  4. Sonsken, Mike. "Phenomenal Woman: Remembering Maya Angelou." KCET. KCETLink, 30 May 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.
  5. Women's Agenda. "Remembering Maya Angelou: Her 15 Most Inspiring Quotes." Women's Agenda. 2014 Private Media Pty Ltd., 29 May 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.

Maya Angelou "Still I Rise"
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