Maya Angelou

I’m a rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly devo­tee of Maya Angelou’s poetry—I’d been mar­gin­al­ly aware of her for years, of course, but I heard Still I Rise on NPR and my inter­est was piqued. Then some­one post­ed Phe­nom­e­nal Woman to and I knew I had to know more of this incred­i­ble artist.

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
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.

Phenomenal Woman

Pret­ty women won­der where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fash­ion mod­el’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phe­nom­e­nal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fel­lows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of hon­ey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phe­nom­e­nal woman,
That’s me.

Men them­selves have won­dered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mys­tery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phe­nom­e­nal woman,
That’s me.

Now you under­stand
Just why my head­’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me pass­ing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phe­nom­e­nal woman,
That’s me.

And this last one I share with you in hon­or of my man:


In what oth­er lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Hands
Your Laugh­ter brave
Those sweet excess­es that
I do adore.
What sure­ty is there
That we will meet again,
On oth­er worlds some
Future time undat­ed.
I defy my body’s haste.
With­out the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die

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