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Transcript of Anne Spencer
For Jim, Easter Eve
If ever a garden was Gethsemane,
with old tombs set high against
the crumpled olive tree--and lichen,
this, my garden, has been to me.
For such as I none other is so sweet:
Lacking old tombs, here stands my grief,
and certainly its ancient tree.
Peace is here and in every season
a quiet beauty.
The sky falling about me
evenly to the compass . . .
What is sorrow but tenderness now
in this earth-close frame of land and sky
falling constantly into horizons
of east and west, north and south;
what is pain but happiness here
amid these green and wordless patterns,--
indefinite texture of blade and leaf:
Beauty of an old, old tree,
last comfort in Gethsemane.
Black Man O' Mine: Black love.
Born February 6, 1882, on a farm in Henry County, Virginia.
Moved to Martinsville, where her father opened a saloon. Within a few years, the parents separated, and her mother took Annie to Bramwell, West Virginia, where she eventually placed Annie in the foster care of William Dixie and his wife, a prominent black couple.
Then, in 1893,eleven-year-old Annie in the Virginia Theological Seminary and College (now Virginia University of Lynchburg).
When she was in school she met Edward Alexander, a fellow student, who tutored her in math and sciences while she helped him with languages. Anne and Edward married in 1901.
The couple had three children: Bethel Calloway, Alroy Sarah, and a son, Chauncey Edward. Later there were ten grandchildren.
Anne Spencer died of cancer at age 93 on July 27, 1975 and is buried alongside her husband Edward, who died in 1964, in the family plot at Forest Hills Cemetery in Lynchburg.
Anne Spencer was a poet, a civil rights activist, a teacher, librarian, wife and mother, and a gardener.
More than thirty of her poems were published in her lifetime, making her an important figure of the black literary and cultural movement of the 1920s—the Harlem Renaissance—and only the second African American poet to be included in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry
Lady, Lady, I saw your face,
Dark as night withholding a star . . .
The chisel fell, or it might have been
You had borne so long the yoke of men.
Lady, Lady, I saw your hands,
Twisted, awry, like crumpled roots,
Bleached poor white in a sudsy tub,
Wrinkled and drawn from your rub-a-dub.
Lady, Lady, I saw your heart,
And altered there in its darksome place
Were the tongues of flames the ancients knew,
Where the good God sits to spangle through.
Black Man o' Mine,
If the world were your lover,
It could not give what I give to you,
Or the ocean would yield and you could discover
Its ages of treasure to hold and to view;
Could it fill half the measure of my heart's portion. . .
Just for you living, just for you giving all this devotion,
Black man o' mine.
Black man o' mine,
As I hush and caress you, close to my heart,
All your loving is just your needing what is true;
Then with your passing dark comes my darkest part,
For living without your love is only rue.
Black man o' mine, if the world were your lover
It could not give what I give to you.