Anne Spencer’s “Lady, Lady”

(Note: I was a bit tossed about whether to make this final submission a poem or another of her beautiful notes to Professor Locke. At length I decided upon this poem, Lady, Lady, for two reasons: one, because the draft included in the correspondence has a stanza that has been excluded from the anthologized version; and two, because the excluded stanza contains the referenced words, “air” and “shepherdess,” contained in the first handwritten note we discussed.)

Lady, Lady, I saw your face
Dark as night witholding 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 crimpled roots,
Bleached poor white in a sudsy tub,
Wrinkled and drawn from your ruba-dub.

(the excluded stanza)
Lady, lady, I saw your air:
Oh, delicate, distant shepherdess,
Pastoral fold and hours that run,
Held by clouds from the burning sun.

Lady, Lady, I saw your heart,
And altared there in its darksome place
Were the tongues of flame the ancients knew,
There the good God sits to spangle through!


(And handwritten at the bottom of the page)

“Lady – Lady is in general the hub of our group. Specifically, she is my laundress.”

One thought on “Anne Spencer’s “Lady, Lady”

  1. I’m happy you included this one Ray. It read to me as a direct modernist feminist approach – challenging rather than fitting into the romantic notions of form? The other – white masculine – poetic “portraits of a lady”? The “laundress” holds power in her “darksome Place”.

    Liked by 1 person

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