Analysis of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise"

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The poem I have chosen to write a detailed description and interpretation of is Maya Angelou's 'Still I Rise'. In analysing the chosen poem I will be considering the ways in which my own knowledge, experience and cultural identity might have an influence in the way I have read and interpreted the poem.

This poem is very strong and powerful, as a reader I can sense this in the title of the poem, 'still I rise'. If the reader does not know the origin of the author I guess that it will be hard to tell what the poem is actually about and whom it is targeted to. We find the answer to whom the poem is written about in the last stanza (where it mentions 'slaves' 'ancestors'); from this I could tell that it is a poem about the author herself who is a black African American women and the painful past of black people. I would say that the poem reflects the rising of the status of black people in America as well as other countries. In the first verse the rhythmic pattern is of a regular 9. 7, 9, syllable pattern until the last line where the pattern of the syllables change to 6, '²But ^Still,| 0/00like Shdust, |

I find this poem quite funny and sarcastic in the way Maya asks questions within the poems verses. These questions, with no doubt, I would say are asked to the 'white people' or the 'haters' of the origin the author is. 'Does my sassiness upset you?' 'Why are you beset with gloom?' I suppose Maya is being some what playful in asking these questions, because she knows she is wealthy and she knows that she has come along way as well as the black people in America, to ask these questions in a playful way, to the people who do not appreciate her and also who are surprised of the success she has reached.

There are many multisyllabic words in each of the verses and there is a rhythmic flow of the poem as I read it out loud to myself. . The second verse has a regular rhythm pattern of 8,7,8,7, syllable lines, which is also the same for verses four, five and seven, the rest of the verses seem to have some type of syllable sound pattern to them, but not as regular as verses four, five and seven. This is shown in the third verse for instant, The first and third line both have a steady metrical flow of six syllables where the words 'moons' and 'suns' are stressed, the third line has a line of seven syllables, where the words 'hopes' and 'high' are stressed, when reading the verse I thought that the fourth line would be the same (but it wasn't), The fourth line contains three syllables, '²Still | ^I'll 0/00rise', this stops the flow of verse in a sudden way which makes that line stand out; in a way that line is the focal point of that verse thus being intentionally structured like so; in this line the stress is mainly on the 'Still' and 'Rise'.

The bold yet playful questions Maya asks are shown in the first lines of each verses of four, five and seven, 'Does my haughtiness offend you?' 'Does my sexiness upset you?' 'Did you want to see me broken?' The answers Maya gives to these rhetorical questions applied are very figurative and somewhat funny. An example of this is in the second stanza, 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells. Pumping in my living room,' obviously that cant be true , but it's a very good way the simile is used to give a description of how the author carry's herself and how she is shown to others eyes. If I had oil wells pumping in my living room, I suppose I would walk around as if I haven't a care in the world, with my head up high; so I understand how that certain line compares to how the author, or successful black people carry them selves. Again in verse five the use of a simile, as a description of how the author acts is understood, 'Cause I laugh like I have gold mines. Digging in my back yard'. Obviously she hasn't got gold mines in her back yard, but when I was reading this line I was imagining how a person would laugh if they did have gold mines in their back yard; quite loud with your mouth wide...
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