Arts & Life
3:06 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou Reads 'Still I Rise'

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 5:17 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And we're going to take a moment now to listen to one of Maya Angelou's best-known poems. Here she is, reading "Still I Rise."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MAYA ANGELOU: 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? Just '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 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 heartiness offend you? (Laughing) Don't take it awful hard just 'cause I laugh (laughing) as if I've got gold mines digging in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like life, I'll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance as if I have diamonds at the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history's shame, I rise. Up from a past rooted in pain, I rise. I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide. Welding and swelling, I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak, miraculously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the hope and the dream of the slave, and so I rise. I rise. I rise.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Maya Angelou reading her poem "Still I Rise." The author's gift with words was apparent, even in less than 140 characters.

BLOCK: Five days ago, Angelou tweeted one last time. She wrote, listen to yourself, and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.

SIEGEL: Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.