Poems By Maya Angelou That Inspired Us All

  • 01

    Still I Rise

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread 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.



    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread 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.

  • 02

    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
    Phenomenally.
    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
    Phenomenally.
    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

    Phenomenally.
    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
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That's me.

  • 03

    Alone

    Lying, thinking
    Last night
    How to find my soul a home
    Where water is not thirsty
    And bread loaf is not stone
    I came up with one thing
    And I don't believe I'm wrong
    That nobody,
    But nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

    Alone, all alone
    Nobody, but nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

    There are some millionaires
    With money they can't use
    Their wives run round like banshees
    Their children sing the blues
    They've got expensive doctors
    To cure their hearts of stone.
    But nobody
    No, nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

    Alone, all alone
    Nobody, but nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

    Now if you listen closely
    I'll tell you what I know
    Storm clouds are gathering
    The wind is gonna blow
    The race of man is suffering
    And I can hear the moan,
    'Cause nobody,
    But nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

    Alone, all alone
    Nobody, but nobody
    Can make it out here alone.

  • 04

    Momma Welfare Roll

    Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
    Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
    Where bones idle under years of fatback
    And lima beans.
    Her jowls shiver in accusation
    Of crimes clichéd by
    Repetition. Her children, strangers
    To childhood's toys, play
    Best the games of darkened doorways,
    Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
    Other people's property.

    Too fat to whore,
    Too mad to work,
    Searches her dreams for the
    Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
    Into a den of bureaucrats for
    Her portion.
    'They don't give me welfare.
    I take it.'

  • 05

    Touch By an Angel

    We, unaccustomed to courage
    exiles from delight
    live coiled in shells of loneliness
    until love leaves its high holy temple
    and comes into our sight
    to liberate us into life.

    Love arrives
    and in its train come ecstasies
    old memories of pleasure
    ancient histories of pain.
    Yet if we are bold,
    love strikes away the chains of fear
    from our souls.

    We are weaned from our timidity
    In the flush of love's light
    we dare be brave
    And suddenly we see
    that love costs all we are
    and will ever be.
    Yet it is only love
    which sets us free.





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