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The poem, “Still I Rise”, by Maya Angelou, contains a number of poetical devices, including repetition, simile, metaphor, and personification. In addition, the author skillfully employs the use of rhetorical questions to create vivid images of strength and determination.
The consistent rhyme scheme of the poem (lies/rise, gloom/room, hard/yard) offers rhythmic pacing and uniformity. In addition, the figurative language supports the theme of a speaker who is both powerful and secure:
“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”
The use of metaphor (“I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide…) strengthens that stance and the use of personification (“You may cut me with your eyes.”) offers vivid imagery of one who is undefeatable, invincible.
"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou consists of six quatrains followed by a 15-line stanza. The most obvious poetic device it uses is repetition, specifically of the words "I rise."
The quatrains are rhymed ABCB, although some of the rhymes are slightly irregular. "Welling and swelling" is an internal rhyme.
The poem uses comparisons, both in the form of simile and metaphor. Similes are direct comparisons, using words such as "like" and "as". An example of a simile is "I dance like I've got diamonds" or "Shoulders falling down like teardrops". Metaphors use implicit comparison. First, the use of the word "rise" is metaphorical, as its literal sense is physical, upward motion. Another example of a metaphor is the line "You may cut me with your eyes". Eyes cannot physically cut anything, being soft and squishy; this refers to emotional pain caused by someone's glance or expression which is being compared to the physical pain of a cut.
The poem also uses rhetorical questions such as: "Did you want to see me broken?".
Maya Angelou has combined several poetic devices in the Poem 'Still I Rise' to paint a vivid picture of endurance, hope and strength. The devices include:
Simile - In verse three, the use of the word like in comparing her rising to that of the sun and moon
Metaphor-in verse nine, she says that she is the black ocean
Repetition- The use of the phrase, "Still I'll rise" throughout the poem to emphasize that no matter the intensity of the adversities faced, her hope and strength will keep her alive.
Rhyme- Similar sounding words like tides and rise, gloom and room, hard and yard.
Rhetorical question-Maya uses a number of rhetoric questions to make her point that her oppressor's efforts to demean her are all futile. She asks, "Why are you beset with gloom?" "Did you want to see me broken?" "Does my haughtiness offend you?"
Imagery- The sentence "I've got oil wells pumping in my living room" paints a picture of the unending confidence and hope the persona has.
Hyperbole- This device has been used to emphasize the brutality inflicted upon the persona. In verse seven, the poet writes, " You cut me with your eyes" and "You kill me with your hatefulness".
Repetition is used throughout the poem. Angelou repeats the phrase "still I rise" over and over for emphasis. End rhymes are also employed. Each of the beginning stanzas have two words at the end of the lines that rhyme. The last stanza employs a rhyme each line that isn't "still I rise".
The lines "I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide." use personification- the ocean "leaps" as well as metaphor- comparing herself to the ocean without using "like" or "as". These lines are also an example of imagery. She uses specific words to paint a picture of what she wants you to see.
Angelou also uses similes. In the line "Shoulders falling down like teardrops." she compares her shoulders to teardrops.
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