In the poem "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou, the phrase "I rise" is repeated several times. What do these words convey?

In the poem "Still I Rise," the continued references to rising show the resilience of the poet and African Americans in general as they respond to oppression with confident assertion of their dignity.

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If you count the poem's title, the words "I rise" or "I'll rise" are repeated eleven times in this poem. That gives the reader a clear indication that "rising" is the main theme of this great poem. These words convey a message of hope, of victory over oppression, and of certainty of prevailing over one's problems.

The first stanza makes it clear that Angelou is speaking on behalf of the African American community. This is made apparent by the reference to being "[written] down in history" with "bitter twisted lies." The last line of this stanza assures the reader that as part of this community, the poet will not remain oppressed but will rather rise.

With every utterance of this phrase throughout this great poem, a sense of hope and strength is built upon. It is made clear that rising will take place in spite of harsh words, hateful looks, and persecution.

The refrain of "I rise" gets more and more powerful as we reach the end of the poem, creating a crescendo that drives home Angelou's point, which is that, as an African American woman, she is strong, and she will not be dragged down by events of the past or attitudes of the present.

The repetition of these words creates not only meaning but also emotion, as the reader is given a sense of how strongly the poet feels about rising up in the face of persecution and negativity. In a nutshell, therefore, the words "I rise" convey hope, tenacity, and determination.

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The phrase "I rise" or "I'll rise" is repeated ten times throughout the poem, becoming more frequent and insistent toward the end, and appearing five times in the last stanza alone. The word "rise" conveys a general sense of upward movement, but it has several more specific senses which are relevant to the poem. To rise is to get up in the morning, something a resilient person continues to do in the face of frequent disappointment and hostility. To rise is to get up when you are knocked down. Finally, to rise is to move upwards, to make progress. The poet is saying that she rises in all these senses and that, in doing so, she is a symbol of the African American community, which has fought its way up from slavery and continues to rise.

The poet refers repeatedly to the way in which her detractors seem to expect her to accept oppression and lowliness and to be accordingly downcast. She amazes them by behaving as though she has oil wells pumping in her living room, goldmines in her backyard, even diamonds between her thighs. The American dream is that anyone can succeed through talent and industry, but the poet confounds the expectations of white society by behaving with such confidence and flamboyance that she seems already to have gained this success, even as she rises towards it. This self-assurance is part of the process of rising.

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This constant refrain is meant to convey the powerful message that whatever happens to African-Americans, however many times they're subjected to racism, prejudice, and bigotry, they will never be kept down. They will always rise up and assert their identity in the face of those who would keep them in a state of permanent subjection.

"I rise" is intended as a message of hope and inspiration, an injunction to dig deep in the face of oppression, to stand tall and not be ashamed of one's identity. Most people are familiar with the expression of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting over again as a response to life's numerous setbacks. The same principle is in operation here.

The speaker seems to suggest that African-Americans will always be subjected to oppression of one sort or another. That being the case, there's only one way for African-Americans to maintain their dignity and sense of self-worth, and that's by rising up every time society tries to keep them down.

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Maya Angelou's use of "I rise" in her poem, "Still I Rise," conveys her determination to fight the racism and sexism that she experiences as a black woman in a racist and sexist society. Angelou's repeated use of the phrase speaks to the long history of oppression against black people in America and the equally long history of black resistance to white supremacy. Angelou is recognizing her own i individual strength, resiliency, and determination to fight against the oppressive system in which she exists. Each time the phrase, "I rise", is used, Angelou's steadfast determination is re-emphasized. Through her repeated use of this phrase, Angelou is acknowledging the centuries of resistance and rebellion against white supremacy that black folks have engaged in, and the resistance to come as long as racist oppression exists.

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Angelou's poem, "Still I Rise," addresses attempts to oppress and suppress African Americans. Therefore, the words, "I rise" is repeated throughout the poem in different contexts to show that she will succeed despite all efforts to erase her history, silence her voice, and bring her down with hate. Though she uses the personal pronoun, “I,” it is likely that the speaker intends to represent all African Americans.

Throughout the poem, the speaker addresses all of the ways in which society tries to oppress African Americans. With the first stanza, she mentions the lies that have been told about her people:

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.

Angelou, or the speaker, will not let a misrepresentation of history keep her from acknowledging the past of her people. She uses “I’ll rise” to show that she will make her voice heard and speak the truth and her mind. She won’t allow anyone to keep her from expressing her “sassiness” (5) “haughtiness” (17), or her “sexiness” (25) just because it makes them uncomfortable. Therefore, she is determined to “rise” above it and be who she is.

She continues with examples of ways that she refuses to let anyone bring her down. In the last two stanzas, her repetition of “I rise” becomes more frequent to show the intensity of her determination to not let anyone determine the outcome of her life. The final three lines consist only of the words “I rise” to place further emphasis on this determination.

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