This study guide will help you analyze the poem “Still I Rise” (1978) by Maya Angelou. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Excerpt from the study guide:
In stanzas two and three, the speaker addresses the oppressor to ask whether her sassiness and sense of self-worth upsets them. She repeats the sentiment that she will rise out of adversity and oppression with unshakable certainty.
The next three stanzas (stanzas 4-6) question the oppressor again. These stanzas repeat the format seen before: the speaker asks whether her power and confidence are offensive, then tells the oppressor that they may try to destroy her, and ends with the repeated assertion: “I’ll rise” (l. 24).
The last two stanzas follow a slightly different format, which also marks a change in tone. Instead of addressing the oppressor, they center on the speaker’s unwavering strength and self-assurance. The words “I rise” are repeated throughout these final stanzas seven times, like a mantra. The final three lines of the poem consist only of these words, which highlights the poem’s main message: “I rise / I rise / I rise.” (ll. 41-43).