Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Poetry: Lady, Lady

I am taking a class online this fall on African American Literature from 1900 - 1960. This week our forums discussed poetry Anne Spencer and Gwendolyn Bennett. Here is a poem that particularly grabbed me:

"Lady, Lady"

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.
-Anne Spencer (1882-1975)

I found the allusion to "tongues of flames" in line eleven to refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, chapter 2 from the Bible. I saw the star in her dark face from line two to foreshadow this indwelling spirit. I enjoyed how the poem builds a scaffold of imagery from the work worn, struggling outer darkness to the spark of eternal fire on the alter within to be inspiring and hopeful. Some of my classmates thought it was a depressing picture of a woman responding to injustice with hate. What do you see in this poem?

The Friday Poetry Round up is hosted by Diane at Random Noodling. Enjoy your weekend! 


Diane Mayr said...

No hate that I can see, especially with it ending with the "good God." Have a great weekend!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Andi. I see that withheld star. This Lady is keeping the essence of herself hidden and safe. It's a lovely poem.

Linda at teacherdance said...

What a story in so few lines, Andi! I see the hate, but it is lifted by the holy spirit, it seems. There is a positive note there at the end to me. Thanks.

tanita davis said...

I cannot imagine God "spangling" through hatred, can you? No. The tongues of flame are inspiration and spirit, glowing like a pilot light deep within, fueling the whole.

Liz Steinglass said...

No, I don't see hate. I see the damage of years of work and oppression. I see anger and resolve and dignity and something good in the middle that didn't get damaged.

Mary Lee said...

I believe in a God who spangles, who sparkles with effervescence, who shines and dazzles and winks and glitters.

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

YES!! Thank you for all these comments. I am so glad we had this discussion. I am going to go back to the class forum well armed.

Ruth said...

God is still spangling through. It's hopeful. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem!