A Poem For Your Thoughts

Maya Angelou: Still I Rise

Davis Creach

Need a poetry fix? You are in the right place! We’ve got some profound poetry ahead, today, so let’s get started! Each edition will include two poems, the first being a featured piece written by a famous poet that will be analyzed and interpreted according to my point of view. Of course, everyone’s interpretation is different and valid, and the comment section will be open for any further discussion. The second piece is written by yours truly and will be open to complete interpretation and analysis. Go forth, enjoy, and as you read, remember: “It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Poem One: Still I Rise by 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 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 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.

Thoughts: Maya Angelou, one of the greatest poets of our time, tackles the essence of freedom and empowerment with this poem. In addition, she praises her identity as a strong black woman, which greatly encourages the reader to proudly express their own identity. There is a clear tone of both jubilation and subtle mockery which demonstrates the speaker’s ability to disregard those who oppose her or try to force a stereotype on her. Our speaker is far above the wickedness and hurtfulness of the world, as she “walks like [she’s] got oil wells / Pumping in [her] living room.” She feels so blessed and joyful, no matter the negativity and oppression she faces from those around her. It is impossible to miss the repeated line “Still I rise” throughout the poem, and this is the true focus and center of empowerment in the piece. The speaker is confident, proud, and undeniable strong as she stands above those who wish her harm and attempt to push her down or reduce her to a stain on the quilt of history. She will always get back up, challenge the authority that struggles to keep her down, and in continually rising she forges a path for herself and the generations to come that leads to success and prosperity. The speaker refers to herself as the “dream and hope of the slave,” at the end of the poem, to demonstrate her place in the progression of civil rights and the growing acceptance of black culture. This is then reinforced by the end of the poem with the repetition of “I rise”, which exemplifies Angelou’s point that she will ever be held down by her oppressors, and the generations that follow her lead will continue to battle on and rise again when they are beaten down by society; they will rise to greater heights and lay a foundation for equality and acceptance that will grow stronger and stronger until it will never be torn down. A powerful and inspiring poem.


Poem Two: Chains by D.C.

Although I may be wrapped in these iron coils,

Enslaved by the mass of your masses,

These chains will break.


You may tighten the grip on these shackles,

But my smile will continue to widen

And these chains will break.


I am weighed down by your unruly expectations,

A horse reigned in by the hooded rider.

And yet, I shall kick you off and gallop into the sunset,

For soon, these chains will break.


I fly like a swallow, courageous and free!

My wings are no longer clipped by your numbers and capital letters,

I sing a song of resilience and unbreakable spirit!

I am free, Lord, I am free!

These chains have cracked,


Turned to utter dust!

No chain can last forever, yours are no exception,

Bereft of all their tensile strength,

No longer ’round these strengthened wrists.




I hope you enjoyed this extremely empowering edition of A Poem For Your Thoughts! Stay tuned next week for more poetry this Friday, and every Friday, right here on The Uproar!