Still I Rise: an Analysis
Sohyun Kim Mr.
Sayed ENG 3U0- 7 October 2011 Analysis of “Still I Rise” The theme in Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise emphasizes a strong African-American perspective to illustrate how hardships of past events can give confidence for one to overcome them. Angelou has written this poem in an African American’s point of view, and herself as well. She has written this poem in first person because it portrays more emotion than a poem in third person point of view. For example, the second stanza says, “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. ” The persona means that they can intimidate the white people with their brimming confidence, and that nothing can hurt them. It allows them to overcome the obstacles of the past and move forwards.
The persona then says, “Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides… Still I’ll rise. ” Because of the perspective it is in, the poem is more understandable.
Instead of using explicit judgement, implied judgement is used in order for the reader to think deeply. As Angelou is an African American, and she too has gone through dark times in the past, the perspective allows the reader to reciprocate what the poem is about- how African Americans were discriminated in the past by white people. Even so, the persona uses the simile “like moons and like suns” to compare how they- the persona and the African Americans- will definitely rise and conquer their past.
Furthermore, the perspective of this poem is past to present. The persona talks about issues from segregation but also how they overcame it. For example, the first stanza shows what white people said about African-Americans. The poem states, “You may write me down in history/with your bitter twisted lies… But still, like dust, I’ll rise. ” Here, the persona talks about how white people were very racist and discriminating, yet the persona will still rise because they will overwrite the past with the present; with their confidence and pride.
Dust always rises, and so will the persona because of their persevering through these tough times. The persona uses their past to their advantage and it helps them become stronger. As well as that, in the sixth stanza, it says “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. ” This means that the persona will rise even if the past is returned to the present.
It relates to the old cliche, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” because the harsh words that white people say about African Americans will not have an effect on them.
They will rise, once again, proudly with their chin held up high, no matter the situation. The African Americans’ pasts have only made them stronger and prideful. Therefore, Maya Angelou uses perspective to illustrate how hardships of past events can give confidence for one to overcome them.