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10 Maya Angelou Quotes to Help You Rise

Maya Angelou is by far one of the most inspiring poets and civil rights activists in history. Her groundbreaking memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings cemented her status as a literary icon and earned her the honor of being the first African American bestselling female author.


Her career has been lined with honors, accolades, and recognition as her powerful writing—centered largely on identity, racism, sexism, family, and exploration—has struck a chord in audiences everywhere. Her words breathe a soothing message that hope and happiness is never unattainable. Here are ten quotes by Maya Angelou to brighten your day.


1. 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.

– “Still I Rise”



2. 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.

– “Touched by An Angel”



3. The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

– “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”



4. 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


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

– “Phenomenal Woman”



5. When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety

Without crippling fear.

– “A Brave and Startling Truth”



6. Don’t show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If I’m afraid at all

It’s only in my dreams.


I’ve got a magic charm

That I keep up my sleeve

I can walk the ocean floor

And never have to breathe.


Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Not at all

Not at all.


Life doesn’t frighten me at all.


– “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”



7. And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restores, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

– “When Great Trees Fall”



8. Centered on the world’s stage,

she sings to her loves and beloveds,

to her foes and detractors:

However I am perceived and deceived,

however my ignorance and conceits,

lay aside your fears that I will be undone,

for I shall not be moved.

– “Our Grandmothers”



9. We grow despite the

horror that we feed

upon our own


We grow.

– “Glory Falls”



10. The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain

We are a going-on people who will rise again.

And still we rise.

– “Million Man March Poem”


maya angelou

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Feature Image Via PowerPoetry