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"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou - Poetry Analysis Essay

The poem “Still I Rise” has been penned down by a famous American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou.


STILL I RISE By MAYA ANGELOU - Poetry Analysis Essay

The poem “Still I Rise” has been penned down by a famous American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Being a historian, novelist and a playwright Angelou has written widely acknowledged works that talk about racism and the social injustices. Through her poems, she takes out people from the spell of hopelessness and allows them to focus on the optimistic side of their lives.

The poem, “Still I Rise” addresses the oppression and subjugation of the African American society and the struggle that the people, especially women had to go through to achieve the level of equality. Being a representative of courage and hopefulness, this empowering poem gives people the courage to rise up for their rights and change the nature of the society that they are living in.

This work has been crafted with the essence of great courage, pride, and self-confidence. One of the main ideas behind writing this poem is that of oppression that has been a part of blackpeople’s lives throughout history. Another important aspect that the poem deals with is that of resilience; in spite of all these difficulties, the author says “Still I’ll rise” i.e. despite all the injustices and harsh treatments, the African American people will still struggle to rise and fight for their rights. The poetess finds pride in being a black woman and talks about the power and beauty of blackness by comparing black people like her to “a black ocean”.

Second Stanza

The poetess proceeds on to the second stanza with rhetorical questioning as to why her success is upsetting the people around her. She wants to acknowledge people around her that despite of all the difficulties and toughness the world has to offer, she knows that she has succeeded in life and she walks with great pride due to her achievements.

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Fourth Stanza

In the fourth stanza, the poetess addresses the racist community by asking a direct and blunt question from them. She asks them with bitterness in her voice that they want to see her “broken with bowed head and lowered eyes?” Though she knows the answer to her questions, she asks these to draw the attention of her readers to reveal the nature of this racist society that will never want to see black people especially black women rise up high and get escape from theoppression.

Sixth Stanza

The sixth stanza opens up with a strong and determined approach of the poetess that no matter whether the society tries to let her down with her words, looks, or acts, she will never lose hope and this time, she uses air as a simile that she will lift herself up “like air”.

Seventh Stanza

Just like the fourth and fifth stanza, in the seventh stanza, the speaker continues to direct the process of cross-examination towards the racist society and motivates herself and other black community by revealing self-confidence.

Eighth Stanza

Finally, the eighth stanza unveils the reasons behind her pain and oppression. She refers to the past and reveal how this racially prejudiced society tried to hold her ancestors down and kept them in the slavery. The use of consonance can be seen in this stanza; the sound of /i/ in“Welling and swelling I bear in the tide” and the sound of /t/ in “Out of the huts of history’sshame”.

Ninth Stanza

In the last stanza, the poetess says that she is leaving the fearful effects of that past slavery behind and begins to live her life with a clear and positive vision. She intends to convey the message that the hatred of this society cannot stop her from achieving her dreams and to pay emphasis to it, she repeats the words “I rise: thrice in her last stanza that leaves a motivating and inspirational impact on the readers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Maryam Jilani

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