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Still, I Rise by M. Angelou: An Analytical Essay

The theme of the suppression of black people and the restoration of their rights is especially popular among African-American authors. In particular, this topic often refers to how Black people have experienced injustice in the past and are currently forced to fight for their freedom. The poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou shows how personal the tragedy of a people can be for each of its members. The author skillfully uses literary techniques to create an emotional appeal that illustrates her individual involvement in the fate of Black people. Using figurative language, metaphors, as well as personification, Angelou managed to create a unique personal story of oppression and struggle for freedom on behalf of an entire people.

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The main theme of the poem is the affirmation of black power ideas. In particular, the author emphasizes that despite the injustice of hardship, Still I rise (Angelou, 1978). This line is repeated many times in the poem and refers to the black people who retain strength and pride despite suppression. Krisna and Soelistyo (2013) note that Angelou underlines that “she will never give up to rise and will move forward for a better life for her and other Black African-American women” (p. 96). Thus, the poem’s main theme is the restoration of the right of Blacks, especially women, to a free life. The author emphasizes that she is ready to fight and stand for the sake of her people and her individual freedoms. Despite the suppression by majority groups and authority, it will not bow and will retain its values ​​and beliefs.

The author of the poem uses figurative language to convey her idea of ​​Black power. First of all, she uses the first-person pronoun to emphasize her belonging to the Black people whose rights she advocates. From the first lines, Angelou notes that throughout history, Black women have been misrepresented with “bitter, twisted lies” (Angelou, 1978). The author also emphasizes her powerless position in relation to oppressors by referring to herself and Black people as dirt and dust (Krisna & Soelistyo, 2013). At the same time, Angelou resists this pressure, thus showing his confidence in his ability to endure the obstacles (Hasan & Ibrahim, 2021). Figurative language, in this case, is the primary method for conveying meaning, which the author skillfully uses.

Simile and metaphor are the author’s most common devices to lend poetic appeal to the theme of oppression. In particular, the author uses these techniques to assert her and the Black people’s confidence in their ability to overcome difficulties (Krisna & Soelistyo, 2013). The author says, “Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells… Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines” (Angelou, 1978). In this case, the simile perfectly illustrates the pride and intransigence that Black people feel in relation to the restoration of their freedom and the struggle for it. In particular, Angelou (1978) compares oil and gold with her people’s pride, emphasizing how important she is to the Black people. This concept is as significant to them as precious materials are to Western people. The poem also contains many metaphors that illustrate that even public pressure cannot break the will of Black people. Angelou (1978) writes, “You may shoot me with your words / You may cut me with your eyes / You may kill me with your hatefulness.” These lines show that the author is confident in her strength and the strength of her people, despite the condemnation of others.

Angelou’s main emotional technique is personification, which allows the reader to be aware of the author’s involvement in the topics described. In particular, the entire poem is written in the first person, which may confuse the reader on first reading. However, on closer inspection, it turns out that personification is used to give “human characteristics to an object” (Hayani, 2016, p. 132). Thus, personification is the main technique for creating an emotional appeal of the poem. The author gives the whole Black people the features of a single person, herself, which is common to the whole group of people. Angelou (1978) emphasizes how the tragedy of an entire nation is personal to her and touches her feelings. This technique gives the theme of the suppression of Black people a special brightness and emotional vivacity, allowing the reader to identify his own feelings with the situation of the described group.

Thus, the author of the poem combines various means, including figurative language, metaphor, and personification, to create a unique personal experience for the reader. Through one person’s perception, you can immerse yourself in the face of an entire nation that experienced oppression and desperately fights for freedom. Despite all the difficulties, Angelou, like Black people, remains proud and continues his ascent, which often goes against other people’s expectations. In this case, the author has managed to tell both a personal and collective story of a struggle that affects both individuals and the whole group.


Angelou, M. (1978). Still I Rise. Poetry Foundation.

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Hasan, H. Y., & Ibrahim, W. J. (2021). Themes of the poem of Maya Angelou ”And still I rise.” Eastern Journal of Languages, Linguistics and Literatures, 2(4), 21-28.

Hayani, R. (2016). Figurative language on Maya Angelou’s selected poetries. Script Journal, 1(2), 131-143.

Krisna, S., & Soelistyo, L. (2013). Black power in Maya Angelou’s poems, ‘Still I rise, ‘Phenomenal Women, and ‘Weekend Glory.’ 

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