Still I Rise, A Poem by Maya Angelou

Still I Rise, A Poem by Maya Angelou - Maya Angelou, Photographic Portrait of the Artist
Maya Angelou, Photographic Portrait

The Still I Rise, a poem by Maya Angelou, is included in the poetry collection And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems, published by Random House in New York in 1978.

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) is the pen name of African-American Marguerite Annie Johnson, a university professor, poet, novelist, director, and activist for Afro-Americans political and social rights in U.S.A., cooperating for this purpose with Martin Luther King and her close friend Malcolm X.

Born in St. Louis, a city that belongs to Missouri and is bordered by the state of Illinois, she lived her long life on the line: sexually abused at the age of 8 by her stepfather, she spent the next 5 months in absolute voluntary silence, and then successively met almost all aspects of the “American Dream”, practicing various professions including cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer, singer and journalist.

All these experiences permeated in a fruitful and creative way her very important literary work. As for her artistic nickname, she owes it to her first husband, the Greek electrician, former sailor and musician Tosh Angelos, with whom she elevated their marriage to a self-evident political and social event of major importance, at a time when interracial relations were almost interracial disapproved.

Maya Angelou - 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 hope and the dream of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou, 1978

Poem by Maya Angelou from the Collection And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems

Audiovisual Document

The poet Maya Angelou reads the poem Still I Rise.

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