Maya Angelou’s vast body of writing includes poetry, autobiographies, plays, children’s books, essays and more. On the occasion of her memorial, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, co-directors and co-producers of the upcoming film, American Masters: Maya Angelou, The People’s Poet, share one of their favorite poems by Angelou, “Still I Rise.”
The memorial service for Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) will be held at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she taught as a professor of American Studies for more than three decades. The service will be live-streamed on Saturday, June 7, 2014, at 10 am.
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
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.
Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.
Reprinted by arrangement with Random House. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)