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've got gold mines Diggin' 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 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 I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
“You must take these things on faith. Someday you’ll be as old as I. People will say the same. ‘Oh no,’ they’ll say, ‘those vultures were never hummingbirds, those owls were never orioles, those parrots were never bluebirds!’ One day you’ll be like me!”
“No we won’t!” said the girls. “Will we?” they asked one another.
“Wait and see!” said Mrs. Bentley.
And to herself she thought, Oh, God, children are children, old women are old women and nothing in between. They can’t imagine a change they can’t see.
“Your mother,” she said to Jane. “Haven’t you noticed, over the years, the change?”
“No,” said Jane. “She’s always the same.”
And that was true. You lived with people every day and they never altered a degree. It was only when people had been off on a long trip, for years, that they shocked you. And she felt like a woman who has been on a roaring black train for seventy-two years, landing at last upon the rail platform and everyone crying: “Helen Bentley, is that you?”