Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
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.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
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.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
© 1978 Maya Angelou. “Still I Rise” first appeared in Dr. Angelou’s collection And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems, which was published in 1978 by Random House.
I love the imagery in this poem. It gives me chills every time I read it, and I can hear Maya Angelou’s voice in my head when I do. Her singular sonorous voice echoes with the shared promise and potential of humanity, especially those who are downtrodden, maligned, and marginalized. Inside also is a reclamation, a refusal to be shaped or cowed by the words and deeds of others. After reading “Still I Rise”, the only appropriate response is amen. Amen amen amen.
Maya Angelou Reciting “Still I Rise”
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