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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Still I rise is a poem written by American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Along with various others, this poem was a method speak out about racism and sexism. This poem sarcastically questions the unspoken rules of society, bringing together two issues of the modern world- that have existed forever.
  She begins "You may write me down in history, with your bitter, twisted lies", speaking of the bias and prejudice that exists surrounding her race, culture, gender etc. The most mesmerizing aspect of her writing is the simplicity with which she expresses her thought. Topics usually considered political, are challenged so casually by Angelou in all of her poems.

 In alternate stanzas, she asks her readers and target audience a question. She asks them whether they are upset, shocked, insulted or surprised by her happiness. She goes on to describe herself in comparison to those who are rich or in control of various things. In the second stanza she writes-"Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wellsPumping in my living room."
Comparing her posture and body language to that of someone who frequently earns large sums of money. With each stanza she challenges the reader to deny that she cannot accomplish these things, or that she is weak because of her race and gender. In another stanza, she asks the readers why they are shocked to see her happy and confident.
 As she mentions the horrendous things that can be done to her, the poem never once reads as a depressing one. It reads as a daring statement that challenges the very concept of discrimination. Although Angelou never openly states that she is speaking of discrimination it is evident in every line.
  She brings up every so subtly the issue of slavery in her last few lines, while mentioning that her predecessors have given her so much. She uses the word "gift" to describe this inheritance, which showing her application of stylistic devices.
The poet doesn't follow a very obvious rhyme scheme, never the less she does follow one. For the first seven four-lined stanzas of her poem, Angelou rhymes the second and fourth lines, creating a pattern of A-B-C-B. After this, she forms one large stanza, alternating between situations and the phrase "I rise".
 Along with following a rhyme scheme, Angelou uses refrain through her poem. In a few stanzas she repeats " still I'll rise". In the last stanza however, she shortens the phrase to add a conclusion with the words " I rise" repeated thrice.
 If you haven't read the poem yet, you can read it here. It's really an inspirational one- that reminds us all that we play an important role in the world, no matter what we look like!

-Poem Fanatic

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