Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

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Photo from PoetryFoundation.org

Still I Rise

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
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.

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
I rise
I rise.

2 thoughts on “Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

  1. Poetry is my first love and I tried for many years to get into Ms Angelou’s work, but never could. For the most part I found it pretty but overly simplistic: passionate it its own way but without depth. Upon her death however, I decided to look for something she had written which really moved me. I found this, and it just blew me away:

    We, unaccustomed to courage
    exiles from delight
    live coiled in shells of loneliness
    until love leaves its high holy temple
    and comes into our sight
    to liberate us into life.

    Love arrives
    and in its train come ecstasies
    old memories of pleasure
    ancient histories of pain.
    Yet if we are bold,
    love strikes away the chains of fear
    from our souls.

    We are weaned from our timidity
    In the flush of love’s light
    we dare be brave
    And suddenly we see
    that love costs all we are
    and will ever be.
    Yet it is only love
    which sets us free.

    end

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