Still I Rise
You may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut 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 wellsPumping 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 minesDiggin’ 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 surpriseThat I dance like I’ve got diamondsAt the meeting of my thighs?Out of the huts of history’s shameI riseUp from a past that’s rooted in painI riseI’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that’s wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.
by Maya Angelou, published in And Still I Rise by Random House in 1978
Dr. Maya Angelou has worn many hats as a poet, educator, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, and filmmaker. She experienced racial discrimination when her family moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Sparks, Arkansas. She has led a very remarkable life even working with Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. In this blog post I can honestly only hope to touch on how astonishing Dr. Maya Angelou is.
When one reads her biography you can see how she overcame trials to rise to her full potential. Her biography is linked below:
This poem has multiple layers of meaning. Dr. Angelou speaks of the experience of how African Americans have had to remember their inner strength and traditions to rise above the history of slavery. As a child, and young woman she experienced first hand the brutality of racism. Dr. Angelou’s choices to assist Malcolm X, and later on Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement speaks to her passion to ending that oppression.
Another layer of meaning is the poem speaks of the human spirit’s ability to rise above the trials and suffering that it has experienced. Most people at some point in their lives experience times of sorrow, fear, and pain. We are so much more than our pain. Self-love where you come face to face with your inner beauty can be such an inspiring, and empowering experience. It is the place of freedom where you begin to see choices on how to live joyously. When one person chooses to rise then it inspires other people to do the same.
Dr. Maya Angelou reads her poem, “Still I Rise” in the youtube video below:
Well it is my hope that her poem and her reading of it will inspire you as much as it did me to make the choice to rise when your spirit is heavy with the burdens of fear, pain, or sorrow.