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
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.
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.