One of my pet peeves is misattribution. I remember getting annoyed in high school when people would say that Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” was a Dave Matthews Band song. I was equally (if not moreso) annoyed when I heard that someone performed Ryan Adam’s “When the Stars Go Blue” on American Idol this past season and said that it was a Tim McGraw song.
Last night I found out that I had been guilty of some misattribution. I was listening to some music, and Krissy said, “Isn’t this a Maya Angelou poem?” to which I replied, “No, this is a Ben Harper song.” In a sense we were both right, but I didn’t have a clue that Maya Angelou had written an amazingly beautiful poem called “Still I Rise” until last night.
Anyways, in order to correct years of misattributing these lyrics to Ben Harper, I have quoted the entire poem below and attributed it to Maya Angelou. Read it and appreciate it – it’s pretty amazing.
Still I Rise (Maya Angelou, 1978)
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 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 my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.