“Still I Rise” opens with a soulful declaration that nothing or
nobody can oppress her. She simply doesn’t care what the history books consist
of, for she known they are full of “bitter, twisted lies”. “But still, like
dust, I’ll rise” shows that Maya Angelou will not be bothered when others “trod”
her “in the very dirt”. This confident opening sets a lively atmosphere and shows
that Maya Angelou is prepared to respond to any conflict against her. On the
other hand, “The Bright Lights of Sarajevo” begins by setting a depressive atmosphere
of poor people “queuing for the precious meagre grams”, foreshadowing the
conflict which is later on represented by many violent phrases such as “massacred
the breadshop queue”.
The first word of “Still I Rise”, “You” is a direct mode of
address, clearly addressing the white oppressors of black Americans and
standing up for herself, for other living black people, and for her ancestors.
Therefore, “Still I Rise” begins with a highly political sense of conflict.
Angelou is implicitly responding to “the huts of history’s shame”, “nights of
terror and fear” and decades of oppression and mistreatment. Similarly, Tony
Harrison is targeting the Serbian persecutors, and blaming them for the
destruction of Sarajevo, “Serb mortars massacred the breadshop queue”.
“The Bright Lights of
Sarajevo” and “Still I Rise” represent physical
conflict using vivid imagery, “dodging snipers along the way” compares with “you
may shoot me” to represent the pain inflicted on the victims of slavery and
war. “snipers” and “shoot” both associate with guns, therefore emphasising the severity
of the conflict.
Both poets use adverse vocabulary
to represent the physical bearings as a cause of conflict, “Shoulders falling” compares
with “broken dead” to show the helplessness and suffering of the victims. Both phrases
use deconstructive language, “falling” and “broken”, to represent how conflict
has deconstructed the victims’ lives.
Conflict – haven’t compared/contrasted these ones
Emotional conflict is
represented in “Still I Rise” when Maya Angelou counters her persecutors with
her emotional tactic – her “sassiness”, “haughtiness” and “sexiness”. “Why are
you beset with gloom” implies that she has succeeded in aggravating her
persecutors and shows that she is trying to put an end to racism. Her calm and
polite approach, “Does my haughtiness offend you?”, sounds as if she is teasing
the white racists.
Maya Angelou repeats the word “still” in order to emphasise
her determined attitude towards defeating racism, just like she continues to
frustrate her persecutors with her emotional tactic.
Maya Angelou uses rhythm to emphasise “Welling and swelling”
the line “leaping and wide” gives us an idea of an ocean
constantly flowing which is being compared to the person constantly trying to
overcome all the struggles they had to deal with in their past. The line
“welling and swelling i bear in the tide” uses welling and swelling to mean
that even in the good and bad times, the person is constantly putting up a
fight, and trying to get through life.