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?    

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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.”

janihash24 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entire poem, "Still I Rise," is Angelou's upthrust fist at a society that attempts to keep her subservient, quiet, and less-than. She is not having it. She asserts that just like the rhythms of the universe, as personified by the moon and sun (and extended to the moons and suns of the whole universe), she will continue to rise in the face of every attempt to quench her.

Both the moon and sun "rise" each night and each day, and this inevitable event, the strength and power inherent in it, is what Angelou compares her own power and strength with. It's not even a question of will. It's a force of nature that in despite of everyone and everything that might be set against her, will simply become more determined and more volcanic.