Students: Nathália Silva, Paula Cristina, and Vitória Camargo
Structure: Still I Rise is a poem written by Maya Angelou, with 9 stanzas. The first 7 stanzas are regular, in quartets, with a rhythmic scheme in ABCB; and the last two stanzas in ABABCC and ABABCCBBB respectively. It is narrated by an oppressed person, as we can see in lines 1 and 2: You can write me in history / With your bitter and twisted lies, but who still seeks to overcome all injustice present in his life story: “But still, like dust, I'll rise. Possibly, this oppression is about racism, because in lines 31 and 32 it says: Up from a past that’s rooted in pain/ I rise and the last stanza: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,/ I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
STILL I RISE!
Meaning: Considering the speaker as a woman, by stanza 7: 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?, because from history, you know that black women were forced sexual relations by their aggressors, it is possible to perceive that between oppression and injustice there is a representation of strength and pride, as we can see in lines 2 and 3: You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I'll rise. ; lines 23 and 24: You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise. In the last stanza, the empowerment in the speaker's words becomes even clearer, in the last 5 lines: Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, / I am the dream and the hope of the slave. / I rise / I rise/ I rise.
Imagery: In the first 7 stanzas, the dominant image is a strong black woman telling some oppressor (we can infer that it’s a racist) that even with the challenges caused by him/her, she is still rising. The similes present in the poem help us to interpret this force of the speaker, for example in the third stanza “Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise”.
Language: The strength of the speaker is emphasized by the word choice and the similes present in the poem. She repeats, still I rise many times, showing us persistence and strength to rise every time something bad happens. The similes show us that she compares herself to big and indestructible things, to reinforce the idea that even with the setbacks she still rises, like in line 9 “Just like moons and like suns”. The painful past (we can infer that is the reason she is strong) is represented by some strong words and some allusions made in the last 2 stanzas. The words “terror” and “fear” present in line 35, are part of an allusion to a painful and racist past.
Effect: Throughout the poem, the speaker recounts the pains of oppression, but as these accounts take place, it is more possible to perceive an increasingly strong and valued tone, whether from his story or the strength to overcome it. By reading this poem, the reader can reflect and feel more courageous and determined.