Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise’ is known to be one of the best pieces of poetry written by her, it has had such a massive impact on society back then, and now. She is seen as an icon for the coloured people and she is seen being represented as a very thoughtful and vigorous figure, and an independent black woman, who has to struggle against the never-ending fight of being a female. Maya Angelou’s poetry can be shown as her overcoming the challenges she faces as a woman and her race, in this instance.
This poem shows how confidently and strongly Maya would ‘rise’, if/when she has to overcome such obstacles mentioned in the poem. This poem is truly a work of art and reading it made me realize that it represents a feeling of hope for the racism and oppression the people of colour may be facing, mostly for the black women. She has displayed non-stop strength and power in this poem, no matter the obstacles that are in front of her. This poem can be seen as an inspiration from the late Martin Luther King Jr., because she believes no matter how someone is making it for you, you shall always try to hang on and have hope, no matter how much someone is obstructing your life, you should always be hanging onto hope. This poem was not only written to share maybe some personal experiences but also to inspire others and so others can overcome and triumph themselves from others, shining their negative energy towards you.
In my life, I’ve had pretty downhill moments, but I have always tried to keep a smile on my face and stay strong from all the negative energy. Initially coming to Canada and facing racism due to the fact of me not knowing English that well, being called a ‘terrorist’ by some. This experience may have been negative, but it made me stronger and had me not care about what others think, and helped me ‘rise up’ and become an even stronger individual.
In the last part of the second stanza, Maya can be seen mentioning “Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room”. I see this quote as very vigorous because this quote can be seen as her being wealthy, determined and/or powerful. Maya, standing up for herself, and all of the other people for this sort of an issue in an independent manner is very fearless of her to do so. As I mentioned earlier, facing derogatory terms by others made me realize that it doesn’t matter what others say, because that doesn’t define me and it’s not going to change me into what they are making me think I am.
The favourite part of this poem for me personally would be the fourth stanza for sure. This is because when Maya states “Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?”, I connect with this very well. I have had points in my life where no matter how hard people tried to make me sad and tried to put me down, they were unable to do so and failed. From being called disrespectful terms and being reminded that my dad passed away. I am still able to keep a smile on my face every day. Being reminded of the past can be hurtful, but you have to try and stay positive and strong. Maya Angelou can be seen being somewhat sarcastic in this stanza, mocking the people with negative energy.
The next stanza states that “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”. What I take from this stanza is the fact that the people trying to put her down, are jealous of her, because she states “Don’t you take it awful hard”, meaning they are seeing that she is not being impacted by them, yet they still go after her and target her. This can be seen in most people’s lives, I relate to this because in my life, as mentioned earlier, I have been through quite tough times, everyone sees me happy all the time, and they can never guess what is going on in my life. However, people still try to put me down, maybe as an act of jealousy, as they cannot bear to see someone happy.
In stanza 7, Maya Angelou quotes, “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?”. The first thing I notice is that she is taunting her enemies by using hyperbole, such as ‘sassiness’, which can be seen as rather an arrogant self-confidence. She can be seen having that confidence during the entire poem and, here she is proud of who she is and that she is someone with marvellous confidence and cannot be touched. From this stanza, what I realize is that I am also proud of who I am, no matter how much I get disrespected, I will always have a smile on my face and have a good mentality. This stanza makes you feel good about yourself, especially someone like me that relates to it pretty well, because it states how she says she looks like, and that can help us think, that with a good mentality and confidence, you too can boost yourself up and make it positive.
In stanza eight, the author says, “Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise, Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise, I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide”. This stanza does not talk about the ‘negative energy’ or the oppressor, but rather takes everything into reflection and moves forward, through the oppression that she was referring to throughout this poem. She states that she is a “black ocean” of power, implying that she can withstand the “waves”, that would have elseways crushed her. When stated, that author Maya Angelou was a “black ocean”, could also mean that she is trying to frighten the people who try to put her down. This is also something that I always keep in mind, to forgive and forget, holding a grudge onto someone for something will do you no good but ruin your emotions. It is always good to just move on and try to stay positive.
In the final stanza of this amazing work of art, the author quotes, “Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise, Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise, Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise (x3)”. The author in this final stanza clearly states that the nights of terror and fear should be left behind and hopefully, the daylight will bring in hope of a better life for her and her people. She will fight for her ancestors and expectantly accomplish her ancestor’s dreams. This stanza was a good way to end the poem on a positive note. I connect to this part because you write your own story, your oppressors do not write your history for you. Just because they weren’t the nicest to us, doesn’t mean they control us and tell us who we are. We are proud of who we are and cannot let anyone decide our life.
From this poem I learned and connected to myself a lot, I’ve always realized that, because I was disrespected, lost a loved one at a young age of 6, I shouldn’t just be stuck on those thoughts, but let those thoughts make me stronger and an, even more, tougher individual.