Angelina Weld Grimke Essay Research Paper The

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Angelina Weld Grimke Essay, Research Paper The Introduction to The Selected Works of Angelina Weld Grimk? by Carolivia Herron The Angelina Weld Grimk? Collection at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center of Howard University includes a note in Grimk?’s hand that lists the titles of a projected collection of poetry. The list begins with the poem "An Epitaph," which depicts the futility and despair of the narrator who longs first for joy, then for love, and is answered with. pain and death. The poem is presented in three stanzas, the last of which unites the themes of death, lost love, repudiation of life, and despair. The typescript of the poem has many changes of pronoun–from I to she and from me to her–suggesting that Grimk? debated between the closeness of

the perspective and the participation of the narrator with the subject of the poem. The last stanza reads: And now I lie quite straight, and still and plain; Above my heart the brazen poppies flare, But I know naught of love, or joy, or pain;– Nor care, nor care. Somewhat illegible, the list of poems moves through titles suggesting happiness and familial comfort ("Lullaby") and ends with "To Joseph Lee," an obituary poem that was published by the Boston Evening Transcript (11 Nov. 1908) and that commemorates an African-American caterer and civil rights advocate in Boston. Grimk?’s projected volume thus moves from inner death to outer death, from the metaphorical death and repudiation of the love of one who loves too much to the literal death of a publicly

mourned figure in a communal occasion of grief. The first poem not only records the failure of love for the narrator, but also masks the fact that the love Grimk? preferred to receive, the love she missed, was probably that of a woman in a lesbian relationship. Critics such as Gloria Hull in Color, Sex, and Poetry, and Barbara Christian in Black Feminist Criticism, have discussed the hidden lesbian life of Angelina Weld Grimk? as it affects her poetry. A large percentage of the Grimk? poetic canon is indeed a record of her attempt to love and be loved by another woman. Many of these poems, such as "Another Heart Is Broken," "Naughty Nan," and "Caprichosa," are here published for the first time. "To Joseph Lee," however, is an example of a

small percentage of Grimk?’s poetry that was written for occasions of celebration or commemoration. Among these are "To My Father Upon His Fifty-Fifth Birthday," "Two Pilgrims Hand in Hand," and "To the Dunbar High School." In addition, Grimk? wrote and published several poems, such as "Tenebris" and "Beware Lest He Awakes," that portray the African-American experience of racial pride, as well as reaction against and revenge for lynching and other racist acts within the United States. Although it is an extremely powerful theme when presented in her poetry, the subject of lynching is minor in terms of the number of poetic references to it. We may say that the three major themes in Grimk?’s poetry are lost love, commemoration of

famous people, and African-American racial concerns, but we must acknowledge that racial concerns constitute less than five percent of her total output of poetry. Most of the poems speak of love, death, and grief through narrative personae that are not explicitly identified with the interests of African Americans and that are often quite frankly white and male. "My Shrine," for example, is narrated by a standard nineteenth-century (male) persona who expresses his idealized love for a woman on a pedestal. In contrast, the entire corpus of Grimk?’s fiction, nonfiction, and drama focus almost exclusively on lynching and racial injustice. These works take on African-American cultural grief rather than personal grief as their thematic focus, and they express great outrage