A WORD MADE FLESH IS SELDOM:
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN CERTAIN POEMS OF
EMILY DICKINSON AND ANGELINA WELD GRIMKE
by Elaine Maria Upton
Page 5Grimke could be as otherworldly as Dickinson, as in "The Want of You":
A hint of gold where the moon will be,Yet she could also write the body into her poetry of love.
YouOr more, in "El Beso":
. . . . Lure of you, eye and lip;Grimke's pronouns are neutral, yet the speaking of woman to woman seems clear in the feminine images. Unmistakenly lesbian are the poems of Grimke's contemporary black poet, Mae Cowdery, yet Grimke's love poetry is nearly as obviously addressed to a woman's as Cowdery's. Given the restrictions of the 1920s and earlier when Grimke was writing, these poems are remarkable in their forthrightness and sensuality. Although Dickinson and Grimke were born in the nineteenth century, perhaps Grimke nevertheless had the advantage of living into the twentieth century in New York and Washington, where other men and women around her were living noticeable homosexual lives--poets like Cowdery, Gladys Mae Casely Hayford, and several men of the so-called Harlem Renaissance period. Even so, there was no broad societal acceptance of same-sex love, and Grimke's poems are not without contraints.
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