Maya Angelou’s birthday is on 4th April. On account of it, I wanted to share one of her poems that always inspires me. This poem makes me instantaneously bolder and more confident. Every time I read it, I get a feeling that I can overcome any problem and deal with any villain. It also makes me realize that I do not have it as bad as others, and hence I should stop complaining. Without much ado, here is the poem, ‘Still I Rise’:
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
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
What I love about this poem is its universality. It may represent the torments of racism, but it can also apply to casteism, classism, colourism, sexism, etc. Even someone who faces petty day to day hardships, i.e., everyone, will be able to relate to it.
Maya Angelou’s attitude towards her problems is something that all of us should inculcate. The way she owns her background and characteristics is awesome. To me, this poem represents standing up against injustice and not just surviving, but flourishing against all odds.