Read the following poem by Maya Angelou carefully and answer the following questions.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
1a The writer addresses ‘You’ several times in the poem. Who is meant by ‘You’, and how can we
tell?’ 2
1b ‘I’ve got oil wells,’ ‘I’ve got gold mines,’ ‘I’ve got diamonds.’ What is the effect of repetition
here and the particular images used? 2
1c In some of the other similes the speaker compares herself to moons, suns and other natural
phenomena. What do you think she means to convey by such images? 2
1d What do you understand by ‘the huts of history’s shame’? 2
1e What are the inherited ‘gifts’ that the writer brings with her? 2
1f ‘I rise’ is repeated several times. What does these words convey? 2
1g The poet makes use of questions as a device. What is the impact of these questions? 2
1h It is hard to miss the energy of this poem. What devices of language contribute to this impression
of energy? 3
1i What do you like about the poem? Discuss.
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