Maya Angelou is gone.
Another star has fallen, her fire blazing out across the night sky.
And to the woman who once taught us that, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” I can think of no greater tribute to her memory than to repeat the words she has left us with, in all their beauty and their power:
Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou
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
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.
This is a tribute. My heart breaks to see her go, but it sings to have had the chance to learn and to know the work she left engrained upon this earth. Her books and poems have helped countless people to understand truths they themselves may never have experienced, and cast back some of the veil over this world. As we must always say when the greats fall: there is no one quite like her.
RIP Maya Angelou.