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Still I Rise Poem by Maya Angelou Analysis

“Still I Rise” is an inspirational and courageous poem that expounds on the noticeable quality of African Americans’ development during the national civil rights movement. The poem is written by Maya Angelou. It channels the outflow of the free spirit of every single African American through the voice of one lady who talks about overcoming the odds of the hardships she faced at the beginning of the race in America.

The poem reflects old black people, disillusioned with an unyielding shout that African Americans will rise above all the inequalities and prosper as a people. It remained Angelou’s most loved poem and topic in the midst of an astonishing oeuvre of books, poetry, and plays. Poetry shows Angelou’s hope and determination. Her work is all about positivity and determination; she encourages all people to always look at the positive side of things. Her poem enables readers to learn about the past and how black people were treated (Gale, 2016).

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on 4th April 1928. Marguerite Johnson was her original name. Maya was a name she became famous with after her first appearance as a dancing performer in Purple Onion Cabaret. When she was three years old, her parents got divorced. Maya, along with her brother Bailey, was sent to a small town in Arkansas where she found out what it’s like to be a Black in the South. She used to have dreams about her having blonde hair but found herself around people who used to consider Black as hatred. She is a poet, author, playwright, stage and dance player, performer, director, and civil rights activist. The Heart of a Woman (1981), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and All GOD Children Needs Travelling Shoes (1986) were nominated for national book awards. Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing (1983), and Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (1993) were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1950, she moved to New York and joined the Writers of Harlem Guild, where she captured her place among the growing black writers. She also performed as a dancer in one of the acts she wrote in the historic Off-Broadway production “The Black” Cabaret For Freedom with one of the amazing actors and comedians, Godfrey Cambridge. The request made by Martin Luther King to become a northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was one of their big achievements. In 1971, she wrote a screenplay along with the musical scores of the film Georgia, which was nominated for Pulitzer as well. Angelou has also written and produced many exceptional documentaries like “Afro-Americans in the Arts” (Bloom, 2014). It is very hard to explain Maya’s writing style as she has never used one specific writing style. In many of her poems, she used a style that uses simplified English along with metaphors that show relations back to slavery times. One of the most prominent writing styles that she uses is the call-and-response form; from here, she creates a relationship between a listener and the poet. Few poems that reflect this style are “Still I Rise”. She used this style to show how it is to survive in a society that doesn’t like you at all because of your color. Maya used a metaphorical technique that only black people could truly understand.

There are many similarities in the poems and prose of Maya Angelou. She uses conversational choice and direction and creates a relationship between the listener and the poet in both the poems and the prose. She also uses metaphors that are strong and compelling. She used a unique style in her prose writing. Maya, in her poem “Still I Rise,” talked about how she survived in a country that does not like black people. She not only shared her views and experiences but connected them to all the black people in America. As a black woman in America, it is very probable that Maya grew up listening to blues music as this music was created by slaves to express their grieves. This is why she uses “Chorus” in most of her poems.

Throughout the poem, Angelou’s tone changes, and the voice depicts the pain she has been through. Her tone changes from stanza to stanza without considering the message she is delivering to the audience, and they might not be comfortable with it, but still, she’s determined to make herself heard by each and every listener. One can easily find a strong relationship between the tone and the theme of the poem stanza to stanza (Wibowo et al., 2017). Self-confidence, determination, racism, and hope are some of the themes of the poem. In every stanza her tone changes as she talks about how she coped with the behavior of the Americans towards her, despite how much pain she had felt, how much hardships she had faced, she never lost her hope and continued to fight for her rights, in fact for every black woman.

The poem deals with racism in an interesting way. Maya’s message was clear: it does not matter what her oppressors do to her. She will still get up and fight. She presented an insight into what it is like to be a black woman living in a country that does not like you at all. With strong determination and will, one can achieve greatness, and this is what she has achieved (Owlcation, 2018).

Works Cited

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Maya Angelou’s” Still I Rise”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.

“Analysis Of Poem “Still I Rise” By Maya Angelou.” Owlcation. N. p., 2018. Web. 28 Mar. 2018.

Wibowo, Ary Iswanto, and Ali Akbar. “FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE IN THE ROOM OF MY LIFE’S POEM BY ANNE SEXTON AND STILL I RISE’S POEM BY MAYA ANGELOU.” IJOLTL: Indonesian Journal of Language Teaching and Linguistics 2.2 (2017): 117-130.

Bloom, Harold. Maya Angelou. Infobase Publishing, 2014.



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