In the poem “Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou compares herself to “moons” and “suns.” What do you think she wants to convey through these similes?    

Expert Answers
Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most importantly, these comparisons resonate with unflinching optimism and fierce determination. They imply that although the poet Maya Angelou is a black woman, she’s not prepared to undergo a life of oppression that has been her ancestors’ for ages. She has already set her goals:

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Through ages, the sun and the moon have been the most common metaphors to describe the peak of success or triumph. So, when Maya says she rises “like moons and like suns,” she gives her oppressors a glimpse of her vigorous ambitions.

The chains of racism have bound the blacks from exercising and enjoying the basic human rights for ages. The uncompromising poet is, however, hell-bent on having everything that’s been denied to the blacks so far. 

Innumerable African-Americans had endured insufferable torture through ages. She inherits the dream of freedom as an ancestral gift. She takes it as her responsibility to fulfil their dream and make their sacrifices meaningful.

That’s why she’s determined to come “out of the huts of history's shame” “leaving behind nights of terror and fear,” and rise “like moons and like suns.”