This poem is for those who are fighting injustice and prejudice. Maya Angelou showed in this poem, that there is always something that needs to be fought for. This is one of the most popular poems written by this American poetess.
Angelou (1928 – 2014) wrote her words down in 1976. In this period of time, people all over the world felt the need to protest against many wrongdoings. Since then, many things have changed. Not always have they changed in a good way and some things haven’t changed at all. That is why this poem is still an anthem that needs to be read out loud, very loud.
We live in a world where injustice and prejudice are still very much alive. Many people feel the abuse of power of those who are in control. This isn’t just related to politics. It also manifests in business. There is always a silver lining to the darkest clouds, according to Angelou. Therefore, we must never lose hope. Things will change, eventually.
The poem reads as if this was a hymn. After everything that has been done wrong, the victim will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. Angelou had the oppression of Afro-Americans in mind, but the poem is so much more. It was relatable for Nelson Mandela, who spend nearly 27 years in prison. When he was inaugurated as president of South Africa (1994), he cited the beautiful and powerful words of this poem.
To show that this poem isn’t just relatable for those who are in politics or part of a political movement top-tennis player Serena Williams read the words of Still I rise for a television registration of the tennis tournament of Wimbledon.
Still I rise is one of the poems that shows that Angelou is truly missed.
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 back yard.
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.
— Maya Angelou