What literary devices does Maya Angelou use in "Still I Rise"?

In "Still I Rise," Angelou uses the literary devices of apostrophe, anaphora, repetition, end rhyme, simile, metaphor, imagery, and alliteration.

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Maya Angelous's "Still I Rise" uses a number of literary devices to build an assertive, defiant, and triumphant tone in her poem.

The speaker uses apostrophe, which is a direct address to an absent person, object, or concept. In this case, the speaker talks to a "you," which is the white culture that has tried to keep Black people down. This direct address helps energize the speaker and make her voice more vehement.

Anaphora, or the device of repeating the same words at the beginning of consecutive lines of verse, adds a sense of religious litany to the poem: for example, in stanza six, the speaker repeats "You may" at the beginning of three of the four lines.

The speaker also employs repetition, which amplifies and emphasizes certain points. For example, she repeats the words "I rise" several times throughout the poem. The poem then lifts to a crescendo at the end with the repetition of "I rise" three times.

A rhyme scheme in which Angelou uses rhyming words at the end of the second and fourth lines of each stanza adds a sense of structure to the poem.

The speaker also uses a simile when she writes:

I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
She uses a metaphor when she compares herself to an ocean:
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide

The poem makes use imagery, which is description using any of the five senses. For example, we can see in our mind's eyes the "bowed head and lowered eyes" that the speaker rejects.

Angelou creates a sense of rhythm with alliteration, which means placing words that begin with the same consonant in close proximity. For example, the d sound is alliterative in "I dance like I've got diamonds" and the h sound in "the huts of history’s shame."

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