Analysis of Maya Angelou's Poem Still I Rise

This great poetess Maya Angelou presents in ‘Still I Rise” the average black American woman who rises like the phoenix each time she is bent by oppression. Here, she triumphantly asserts with conviction how she continues to rise with renewed vigor. In stanza one, Maya Angelou hints at her relationship with history and the body’s relationship with the earth. With an African American background, she knows the importance and cruel irony of history. “His Story” is usually told from a European angle.

She also correlates how the body can be put and driven into the ground, but eventually it decomposes and humans turn into earth, like soil and dust. Maya Angelou tells how she is above lies and oppression, and ‘like dust, I’ll rise. ‘ The speaker goes on to ask a rhetorical question to the reader. Her attitude as a confident, sassy, African American woman is out of the norm for society. A woman, let alone an African woman who has confidence in herself was a taboo idea.

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She asks the reader if that upsets them, which at the time, probably did. She also mentions how she carries herself, portraying it to the world as though she is rich, which for Maya Angelou she wasn’t rich growing up. This just explains how one can act confident and be proud of themselves even though they are not rich or perfect. In the third stanza Maya correlates her attitude with the certainty of nature. She explains how nature and people’s hopes are certain facts that will never end.

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The sun will always rise just like the moons. The tides and people’s hopes will always rise that all have a natural order in life. Yet, the speaker knows, ‘Still I’ll rise. ‘ The speaker describes her ability to rise above anything that happens to her in this poem. She also uses apostrophe to address her discourse, as well as give others the ability to share her voice. I believe this poem could be seen as the speaker addressing someone, or as a sort of self-help/self confidence booster for others to recite.

The speaker also asks questions throughout the poem, which give the readers the opportunity to review their lives, contemplate their beliefs, and review the questions being asked of them. The rhyme scheme remains the same as the beginning through the middle three stanzas. It seems like an ABCB pattern that is repeated until the very end. The overall line by line analysis is fairly similar for the three middle stanzas and its basic meaning is that is no matter what other do to hurt her, in the past or future, she can rise above it.

She begins with a sort of taunting to the reader. She makes it feel as though she’s saying you thought I couldn’t do it, but look at me now! She then asks if her pridefulness is offensive, and then proceeds to say she doesn’t care if it is or not. Finally, she says that you can try and hurt her any way that you want, but she’s still going to rise above it. There is a reference to roots and the slavery era, and she uses her ancestors experience as a resource for her own strength.

She also says that she must preserve her ancestor’s dreams (who were slaves) for success in a free world. In these last three stanzas she also uses questions to draw the reader in and require them to examine their own lives. She says that she will rise above the pain and suffering that her ancestors have experienced in order to fulfill their dreams of being granted the opportunity for success in a world where she is free. She also wants to emphasize the fact that she is not faltering from the pain and suffrage she and her ancestors have experienced, but she will continue to rise.

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Analysis of Maya Angelou's Poem Still I Rise. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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