Still I Rise by Maya Angelou is one among several poems in her collection of poems titled Still I Rise. It is a poem about adversity but, more importantly, it is a poem about rising from adversity. It is easy to decipher this from the very lines of the poem. She talks about being trodden down in dirt and being recorded in a negative light by history. But from all this still, the poet rises. From the adversity, she rises.
The poem is about racism and how the black people have been hated and discriminated against by the white people. She says that despite all the challenges that the black people face they are still rising above the adversity. They are not rich and neither do they have properties or things to boast of. They do not even have the favor of the government, but they still rise above the challenges and walk proud. “Cause I walk like I\’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.”
The poem is also about standing proud as a woman. Maya Angelou was raped at the early age of 8 and, thereafter, spent her time immersed into a world of literature. She healed her trauma by memorizing poetry. She is celebrating herself in the poem as well. It is abundant when she talks about how her sassiness might be the source of gloom for the antagonist. How her haughtiness might offend the chauvinists. How her sexiness upsets them because she dances like she has diamonds at the place where her thighs meet.
Harold Bloom considered the poem as one of the best in the entirety of the book. It was even featured in the film, Poetic Justice. Bloom describes the poem as, ‘hymn-like poem to woman’s beauty’. He examines the ways in which Maya uses the raw egg metaphor to contrast dominant masculinity with curious fragile femininity. The poem is symbolic of Angelou’s style, irregular rhymes coupled with forceful lines. She includes short and frequently monosyllabic lines that create a rhythm that is provocative and even resounding with a good degree of underlying confidence.
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