Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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
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.

by Maya Angelou

Other poems of ANGELOU (52)

Comments (4)

[Sonnet 124 went 'lost' - so I've posted the text at the bottom] About Sonnet 125: I. This is effectively the final sonnet to the youth, the next one being a sort of envoi or farewell sonnet. It is linked closely to the two preceding ones, and echoes their ideas. Critics have also picked out two closely related texts which seem to have a bearing on this sonnet. Part of the first scene of Othello contains many verbal echoes. The following words and phrases are relevant: second, forms and visages of duty, thrive, obsequious, outward, extern. The full extract is printed at the end of the page. The second text is the Communion Service from The Book of Common Prayer, (1559) of which the portions significant in this context are printed below.
II. It is always difficult to dissect the relationship between any two written works. Here we would expect the sonnet to resemble closely the Othello extract and the Communion Service to be only a distant cousin. In fact the opposite seems to be the case, for the harsh dictums of Iago are of a Machiavellian cynicism and are a total rejection of the doctrine of the Eucharist. Whereas the Communion Service reaches right to the heart of the themes of the sonnet. So it is not a matter of the use of similar words that is relevant, but what those words seek to convey. We may perhaps most profitably use the Othello resemblance as a pointer to the date of the sonnet. Other than extern, the words themselves are not uncommon. It is the combined use of all of them in both sonnet and play which is unusual. One may therefore hesitantly suspect a proximity in date of composition of the two pieces. Since Othello is fairly reliably dated to circa 1604, and many commentators have thought that the references to the canopy and the smiling pomp of the previous sonnet may be remembrances of the coronation procession of James I, which took place on March 15th 1604, we may conjecture that post that date, say 1604/5, is the most probable date of composition. As one of the most densely worded and richly allusive of all the sonnets, we should rightly expect it to be of a later date anyway, and these small pointers help to confirm that impression.
SONNET 124 If my dear love were but the child of state, It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered, As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate, Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered. No, it was builded far from accident; It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls Under the blow of thralled discontent, Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls: It fears not policy, that heretic, Which works on leases of short-number'd hours, But all alone stands hugely politic, That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers. To this I witness call the fools of time, Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.
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