Maya Angelo was quoted in an article in Essence: African American Politicians Interviews, as saying " The power that I have first comes directly from being a descendent of people whose powerful history makes me humble. I would like to think that if I had been born anything other than black and other than a black American women, that I had done something wrong in a former life and God was making me pay for it." The power of the poem "Still I Rise" is derived from Maya Angelou's powerful sense of humility (not modesty) of who she is and glorifying in it. Angelou was born April 14, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St Louis, MO but was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She was raped at the age of eight, and was an unwed mother by the time she was 16 years old. In spite of a tragic beginning she has still managed to become a poet, a author, a historian, a actress, a playwright, a civil-rights activist, a producer, and a director. She began her career in drama and dance and in 1993 she wrote and delivered the presidential inauguration for President Bill Clinton. She is also fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and West African Fanti.
Several types of emotions are conveyed through Angelou's poem and knowing something about Angelou's life can help one to understand her poetry. Having survived many hardships she brings those feeling of jubilation and fear to her literary work. She is open and honest about her emotions and easily passes this feeling and thoughts to her readers. .
"Still I Rise" is a poem written in free verse with predominately four lines stanza's. The language is simple and easy to understand. It doesn't have any rhyme or rhythm, however it does use figurative language throughout the poem. For instance stanza two " "Cause I walk like I've got oil well pumping in my living room?". Or stanza four " Shoulder falling down like teardrops. weakened by my soulful cries." Angelou uses several literary devices throughout the poem.