In honor of World Poetry Day, my slice is about the power of poetry. I had originally wanted to write some poetry of my own today, but I’m not quite feeling it. Instead, I find myself pondering the power that poetry plays in our lives. Poetry can excite you, lift you up, move you, tell a story, paint a picture in your mind, or give voice to your feelings.
As soon as I got home today, I immediately reread Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” This poem had been speaking to me on the way home. Even when I couldn’t remember all of the words, the message, the mantra “I rise” kept repeating in my head. Today I rise. I may be beaten down. I may be downtrodden. But still, I rise. No one has power over me. I rise. I am worthy. I rise.
Still I Rise
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
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.