Anne Spencer

By Ryan Swindells


external image Anne_Spencer.jpg

Anne Spencer was born on February 6, 1882 in Henry County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales. After her parents had a divorce, Sarah took Anne to go live with William T. Dixie, an influential member of the black community. Anne began her love for language at the store across the street were she read magazines. She was sent to Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, where she met Edward Spencer. She married Edward on May 15, 1991, two years after she graduated from Virginia Seminary.
She had three children who were the main source of her inspiration. She used their energy and excitement to fuel her poetry and courage for writing about sensitive issues in the community. Some of her most notable poems are "Black Man O' Mine" and "White Things", two poems that helped change the way people thought about racial inequality. These poems were based on the search for beauty and purpose in the world, and what people's true purpose is in the universe.She met influential people like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Paul Robeson, and many others. They came because they were interested in the way that Anne gardened. She was very artful with what she did and people respected that.
Anne was very much like Alice Walker in that she was looking for a beautiful connection between humans and nature. She believed that everyone was a part of something and that they formed something divine. Her poetry shows this and has affected many more poets in their writing since her death in July 27, 1975.

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.

This poem seems to be about finishing a difficult task and being rewarded by changing the perspective on life. It kind of symbolizes new beginnings, or like reaching the peak of a mountain and being able to experience a new and more all-inclusive view of the world. There is a strong sense of symbolism in this poem, as well as the use of imagery, enjambment, and rhythm breaks. The old olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane relates to Anne's love of gardening, as well as her view of nature being divinely connected with humans. The falling of horizons and the compass relate to the idea of the rules that people have become accustomed to suddenly failing. The poem is asking for curiosity and astonishment from a new source of light or information.

Works Cited
"Anne Spencer: Biography from" Wiki Q&A combined with free online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.
"For Jim, Easter Eve - "Early 1900's" - Written by Anne Spencer... Do enjoy reading this poem... Send it to a friend... "African-American Poetry"." Black Poetry, Black Poets, Black Poems, Black Poetry, African American Poetry, African American Poems, Def Poetry, African American Poets, Def Jam Poetry, Black Writer, Black Author, Ghetto Love Poem, Urban Poetry, Spoken Word, Hip Hop Poetry, Friendship . N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.
"Poets' birthdays in February: take a poet to brunch! - San Francisco Poetry |" National News, National Information, National Events - | N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.