Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” inspires modern readers just as much today as it did when it was published in 1978. Many aspects of life in America have improved since this poem was written. There have been important advances in supporting women’s rights, promoting racial equality, and advancing rights of the LGBT community. However, all it takes is browsing news headlines to see that problems stemming from hate still exist. Whether on a personal or societal level, Angelou’s words still inspire readers to rise above hate, pain, lies, and fear.
Most people can relate to having been misrepresented like the speaker of the poem who confronts those who write her “down in history with your bitter, twisted lies.” Most people have confronted hatefulness, feeling that someone could “shoot me with your words” or “cut me with your eyes.” Most people have painful memories they would like to shed, “Up from a past that’s rooted in pain.”
Despite the negative circumstances the speaker struggles with, the poem has a bold, uplifting tone. The speaker is determined to rise above this pain, repeating that phrase eleven times in the course of the poem. These repeated words at the end of the poem give the impression that the speaker will continue rising, despite whatever new obstacles may come. This poem shares an empowering message for readers today and into the future.