“Still I Rise” is an inspirational and courageous poem expounded on the developing noticeable quality of African Americans 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 that 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 the hope and determination of Angelou. Her work is all about positivity and determination, she encourages all people to always look at the positive side of things. While her poem enables readers about the past of 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 got 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’s it like to be a Black in South. She uses to have dreams about her having blonde hairs but found herself around people who use to consider Black as hatred ones. She is a poet, an author, playwriter, stage and dance player, performer, director, and civil rights, activist. The heart of a woman (1981), Gather Together in My Name (1974), All GOD Children Needs Travelling Shoes (1986) nominated for national book awards. Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing (1983), Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (1993) were nominated for Pulitzer prize. In 1950, she moved to Newyork and joined writers of Harlem guild and captured her place among the upcoming growing black writers. She also performed as a dancer in one of the acts which she also had written in the historic Off-Broadway production “The Black” Cabaret For Freedom with one of the amazing actor and comedian Godfrey Cambridge. The request made by Martin Luther King to become a northern coordinator of Southern Christian leadership conference was one of the big achievements for her. In 1971, she wrote a screenplay along with the musical scores of the film Georgia, that wa 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 the writing style of Maya as she never used one specific set of 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 style that she uses is the use of Call and response form, from here she makes a relationship between a listener and the poet. Few poems that reflect this style are “Still I Rise”. She used this style because of showing how is it to survive in the society who doesn’t like you at all because of your color. Maya used the technique of metaphor that only black people could truly understand.
There are many similarities in the poems and prose of may Angelou. She uses conversational choice, direct and creates a relationship between the listener and the poet in both the poems and in 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 who 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 the blue 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 changing and the voice depicts the pain she has been through. Her tone changes stanza to stanza without considering the message she was delivering to the audience and they might not be comfortable with it but still, she’s so determined to make herself heard by each and every listener. One can easily find a strong relation between the tone and the theme of the poem stanza to stanza (Wibowo et al., 2017). Self-confidence, determination, racism, hope, these 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 that 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).
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.