Snare of the shine of your teeth,
Your provocative laughter,
The gloom of your hair;
Lure of you, eye and lip;
And madness, madness,
Tremulous, breathless, flaming,
The space of a sigh;
Pain, regret—your sobbing;
And again, quiet—the stars,
Twilight—and you. (via Poets.org)
Let us celebrate the memory of Angelina Weld Grimké (Feb. 27, 1880 – Jun. 10, 1958), the far-too-little-known author of this gorgeous poem and so many other wonderful works of art and literature on the anniversary of her birth!
Alix North of Island of Lesbos writes of Grimké:
Angelina Weld Grimké was born [on February 27th, 1880] in Boston, the only child of Archibald Grimké and Sarah Stanley. Angelina had a mixed racial background; her father was the son of a white man and a black slave, and her mother was from a prominent white family. Her parents named her after her great aunt Angelina Grimké Weld, a famous white abolitionist and women’s rights advocate.
Angelina received a physical education degree at the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics in 1902. She worked as a gym teacher until 1907, when she became an English teacher, and she continued to teach until her retirement in 1926. During her teaching career, she wrote poetry, fiction, reviews, and biographical sketches. She became best known for her play entitled “Rachel.” The story centers around an African-American woman (Rachel) who rejects marriage and motherhood. Rachel believes that by refusing to reproduce, she declines to provide the white community with black children who can be tormented with racist atrocities. “Rachel” was the only piece of Angelina’s work to be published as a book; only some of her stories and poems were published, primarily in journals, newspapers, and anthologies.
Only her poetry reveals Angelina’s romantic love toward women. The majority of her poems are love poems to women or poems about grief and loss. Some (particularly those published during her lifetime) deal with racial concerns, but the bulk of her poems are about other women, and were unlikely to be published for this reason. Only about a third of her poetry has been published to date… (The orginal site at http://www.sappho.com/poetry/a_grimke.html is no longer active)
…and learn more about the luminous Angelina Weld Grimké at:
Angelina Weld Grimké ~in Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers, edited by Yolanda Williams Page
Angelina Weld Grimké ~ by Judith Zvonkin for The Black Renaissance in Washington, D.C.
Angelina Weld Grimké ~from Encyclopædia Britannica
Grimke, Angelina Weld (1880-1958) ~ by Claudia E. Sutherland for Blackpast.org
Grimkè’s Life and Career: The Introduction to The Selected Works of Angelina Weld Grimké ~ by Carolivia Herron for Modern American Poetry at the Department of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Further reading: Selected Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance: A Resource Guide – Angelina Weld Grimké
*A version of this piece was previously published at Ordinary Philosophy
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