Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


And Still I Rise was author Maya Angelou’s third out of five volumes of poetry published in 1978 to mixed reviews for some strange reason known only to reviewers. April is National Poetry Month in the US so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to showcase one of my favorite poets: African American author, civil rights activist, and truth teller Maya Angelou.

I sprinkled several of my favorite Maya quotes this month on my sidebar beneath the archived posts of I’ll Call It in an effort to share her wisdom that transports her words on wings to our ears and minds if we are willing to listen.

In 1998 Maya Angelou spoke at the Second Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner; her speech that evening focused on the importance of gay people coming out of the closet. 

You have no idea who you will inform because all of us are caged birds,

have been and will be again.

Caged by somebody else’s ignorance.

Caged because of someone else’s small-mindedness.

Caged because of someone else’s fear and hate…

and sometimes caged by our own lack of courage.

I miss Maya Angelou not only for her words but for her voice when she spoke. The rich, slow – almost ponderous – rhythms of her speech mesmerized me, and the deep rumbling voice was like the sound of my old Dodge Dakota pickup truck’s muffler when I started it first thing in the morning.  Music to my ears.

Thank you, Luanne Castle (see blogroll), for reminding me to celebrate the rich history and present work of our American poets this month. When I was a child, my daddy enjoyed nothing more than to recite a poem to me – I know he would have loved a National Poetry Month.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    I thought of Angelou’s poem everyday during that racist mess that was Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing. And everyday she rose above the cesspool of disgusting Republican slime creatures.


  2. Bridgette says:

    One of my favorites. I read this to my daughter when she turned 13, the ideas felt important for her to hear. I think I’ll return to it when she turns 16 and see how much more she understands.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Her words are beautiful and her voice was just gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

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