Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise” may contain different meanings depending on the reader who interprets it. It is a poem that talks about keeping one’s head up no matter how hard the situation they come from and not being affected by the problems on the side. Maya Angelou was part of a generation wherein the black race was still seen as “inferior”. During that time, the “truth” is usually kept hidden favoring the more superior groups of people. Hence, the first lines of her poem: “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 rise.”
Maya Angelou was raped as a child. Thus, the line, “You may trod me in the very dirt” may be connected with the way she was treated when she was a child. On a larger sense, she may also be talking about the way her race was treated during the time of slavery. In the next stanza of her poem, Maya Angelou uses comparisons to depict a certain situation that she wants to show. “’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.”
In this certain line, Maya Angelou uses symbolism to express the way she rises above the situation. Oil wells are a symbol of prosperity. The richest countries in the world are oil selling countries. Thus, when Maya Angelou said that she walks like she has oil wells inside her living room, the reader will picture her walking like a rich girl, with her head held high. In the next stanza, she says:
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”
The word “certainty” is very important in this stanza. Using this word, she is expressing that no matter how hard the situation she faces, she will rise above it with certainty. In the third stanza, the author asks:
“Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.