Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Monday Inspirations: “Still I Rise”

Today’s edition of Monday Inspirations is short but powerful. It comes in the form of one of my favorite poems: “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

Last week, I chatted a bit about the idea of the beginner’s challenge, the difficulty that novices face (especially when approaching creative endeavors) as we shake ourselves out of our ruts and comfort zones to pursue our dreams. The idea of perseverance, of “fighting through” both the highs and lows that come from going out on a limb, is one that remains on my mind.

Angelou has written extensively on these themes throughout her long and prolific literary career. No matter how many times I read “Still I Rise,” I can’t help but feel tingles shoot down my spine. Angelou’s words leave me feeling uplifted every time, like I can conquer the world and overcome any challenges that stand in my way. This is the ultimate battle song of survival, a declaration that surrender isn’t an option, that a strong, vital spirit cannot be squelched.

I’ve provided the text of the poem below, but if you can, check out the video. It’s always a treat to watch poets recite their own work, especially when they are as engaging and delightful as Angelou.

Are there stories or poems that you turn to when you need a bit of inspiration?

“Still I Rise”

Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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.

10 Comments

  1. Wow, her delivery of the poem is incredible! Reading work is as much an art as writing work, and damn she is GOOD. Such a beautiful poem, too.

  2. That’s one of my favorites of hers. Loved the video, thanks for sharing that!
    Raelyn Barclay recently posted..Sunday Summary, #ROW80, & #NaNoWriMo Oh my!My Profile

  3. That poem is amazing. I found it very powerful. The strength of the human spirit is so strong and inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Melissa Pearl recently posted..What’s Your Motivation?My Profile

  4. Simply reading Maya Angelou’s name brings me inspiration… This poem, in particular, is GORGEOUS. Thanks for the day brightener, Lena!
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Eat Like a Pilgrim, Write Like a ProMy Profile

  5. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite poets. She is so incredibly inspiring. Great choice, Lena!
    Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..ROW80 Check-In Sunday, November 6, 2011My Profile

  6. That poem was new to me, and it was amazing. Thank you for posting it.
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Musical Stories 18: Children’s LiteratureMy Profile

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