What are the metaphors in "Still I Rise"?
In the sixth stanza of "Still I Rise," the speaker continues to address the same audience she has addressed in the first five stanzas—white people who oppress Black people—using a series of metaphors. A metaphor is a comparison of two unalike things where one thing is said to be another.
For example, she says, "You may shoot me with your words," comparing the hateful words of her would-be attackers to damaging bullets shot from guns. She also says, "You may cut me with your eyes," comparing the looks given by these attackers to blades, and "You may kill me with your hatefulness," comparing their hate to some weapon that could physically kill her. Each of these three comparisons is a separate metaphor.
Later in the poem, the speaker uses another metaphor, saying, "I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, / Welling and swelling I bear in the tide." This metaphor emphasizes her power and her vastness, suggesting that it is in her very nature to rise like the tide and that she is as unstoppable as the tide.
She also compares American history, with its past of chattel slavery, to "nights of terror and fear" and the future to a "daybreak that's wondrously clear"—two more metaphors. The speaker believes that she is precisely what that enslaved person, hundreds of years ago, dreamed and hoped for: a free Black woman with confidence and power.