Monday, 9 July 2012

Day 18: Rise

Today, an example of a powerful poem - a defiant hymn of strength from African-American poet, Maya Angelou. 

This is a truly powerful poem which reclaims the dignity and self-respect of African-American history, gender inequality and personal degradation. It is a declaration of strength, with every line rolling out like a drumbeat, a chant, an affirmation clearly written by someone who has risen above all hardships and degradation and in doing so, has come to know her true worth.

A little lesson we all could do with remembering. If you're feeling frail or weak or downtrodden - read this poem. Its haughty rhythm and fierce rebukes are a concoction for self-respect, strength and invincible resilience, an anti-dote against the venom of life's difficulties. Let it seep into your pores and feel every fibre of self swell with strength.

Still I Rise - Maya Angelou

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
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.


  1. Oh yes. Can't recall where, but I've heard a recording of her reading this, and POWER is the word. Wonderful anthem.

  2. I love this poem! Yes, I think I saw some clips on You Tube - must check it out!

  3. Having read it again the second time I must say it is a very good poem celebrating her total existence and freeing herself from all restraints. Does that make any sense?

  4. It does indeed! Sometimes you need to read a poem a few times to really understand it. And sometimes, with each reading, you get different messages from it. I think it's a very empowering poem that we all can relate to, in different ways.


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