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Still I Rise

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Submitted By jchauvin
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Still I rise
Favorite Poem Essay
Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise is an astonishing piece of art. The reason I chose this poem is because it’s not only a poem, it’s a story. The poem is about Maya Angelou’s beliefs being a women of color about discrimination. It’s not just her personal story but a universal experience for those with an African American background. Throughout the poem, Maya Angelou uses many poetic devices to give us more in-depth meaning behind what is in the poem. These poetic devices help her poem flow, create emotion, and makes the read more interesting. The poetic devices Maya Angelou focused on throughout her poem are repetition, rhyme, metaphor, and symbols. These poetic devices work together to create an overall effect on the meaning of the poem, creating the poem to be more thought-provoking to the reader.
The first poetic device Maya Angelou uses throughout her poem is repetition. In the poem, she continuously uses the phrase “I’ll rise” (Angelou 12). The repetition of this phrase emphasizes the hope and confidence she has to overcome the struggles she is facing as an African American. The idea of moving forward and being a successful individual despite what society may bring towards someone is given off by this repetition of the strong phrase. The repetition allows the reader to notice the importance of never giving up on their own beliefs even when they’re different. These words at the end of the stanzas gives it strength and brings the poem back to the importance of the words written which is no matter the situation, continue to push through and rise above that is trying to stop you. Near the end of the poem, Maya Angelou starts to repeats the phrase “I rise” (Angelou 30). The change between the two statements is she will be, and then she is rising above the discrimination against her heritage. The repetition of these words at the end of the poem focus the reader on how much strength the author has gained, being able to rise against society and be her own individual with no judgement. Using the statement “I rise” repeatedly allows the readers to feel the strength that Maya feels in herself and allows the reader to be able to see through her outlook on life (Angelou 30). The repetition of these two phrases have a great effect on how the reader interprets the true meaning of the words. The restatement of these words help the author emphasis how she is feeling towards the subject. Repetition is a great poetic device to use when there is significates behind the words.
Another poetic device Maya Angelou uses well in her poem is rhyme. Throughout the poem, the author uses an A-B-C-B rhyme scheme. This effect brings attention to the last words of the second and fourth lines. For example, in the poem it reads “You may write me down in history, with your bitter twisted lies, you may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise” (Angelou1-4). This rhyme emphasizes the words “lies” (Angelou 1) and “rise” (Angelou 4). These two words are important because even when Caucasian people made lies about the African Americans and how they weren’t the same social class, Maya was able to rise above these standards to accept herself even when no other race did. The rhyme of these two words let the reader understand that there is a connection between the two words. Without the rhyme, they would not have been as noticeable, which is why it’s important to use this literary device to highlight connecting words. Also, at the end of the poem, the author begins to change the rhyme scheme of the poem, creating two lines that rhyme right after another. This change in rhyme scheme brings attention to the words that are being used. The two lines used are “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave” (Angelou 39-40). The rhyme here brings attention to not just the two words, but the sentences before them. She is telling her readers that she is bringing hope and positivity to her fellow African Americans. Her perspective of rising above the classifications determined by others influences the others to do the same. The rhyme of the words bring great attention to them and the sentences. Rhyme is an effective poetic device used to focus readers on important messages throughout a poem and Maya Angelou successfully accomplished this.
A third poetic devices the author uses properly within her poem are metaphors. In the poem, Maya writes “I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide” (Angelou 33). The comparison of Maya to a black ocean, leaping and wide, indicates that she is deep, meaningful, giving off a sense of fear and evil. This is how she describes herself and her race because that’s how other races make her feel. The “black ocean” symbolizes the cruelty that has been brought on to her and all African Americans throughout the years. Having this metaphor helps the reader want to get a deeper meaning of just the words. The metaphor adds flavor to the stanza, creating the reader to be more interested. These words encourage the audience to use their imagination to interpret what is being said. Metaphors are very important in poems because they emphasize main ideas secretly and that’s why they have a great effect on readers.
In conclusion, Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise demonstrates how hard life can be as an African American through her poetry. When using repetition, rhyme, and metaphors within her poem it helps build meaning behind the words creating a deeper, thoughtful theme. The different devices help her explain her story of her heritage history in a very expressive way. The poetic devices used work together to create an overall effect of how racism was a big part of many lives, not just Maya’s, which created the poem to be more thought-provoking. Maya Angelou did an unbelievably good job using the poetic devices to intrigue the audience to understand the theme of life as an African American.

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