Anne Spencer


by Samuel Li
external image Anne_Bethel_Spencer_in_her_wedding_dress.jpg
Anne Spencer


Biography


Anne Spencer was born in Henry County, Virginia, on February 6, 1882, Annie Bethel Bannister was the only child of Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales. After her parents failed marriage Sarah took her daughter to Bramwell, West Virginia. In Bramwell Sarah's financial status forced her to place Annie in to the family of William T. Dixie, an upstanding member of the black community. Annie began to read dime-store novels and newspapers, which led to her understanding of the power of language. Sara Scales soon sent Anne to the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, one of few schools that enrolled African-American students. In this time Anne met Edward Spencer, her soon-to-be husband. The couple married on May 15, 1901 and raised three children.

Anne Spencer became friends with many people associated with the Harlem Renaissance, such as James Weldon Johnson. Johnson ended up discovering the poetic side of Anne, and introduced her to H. L. Mencken who, a man who aided black writers. While Mencken helped Anne publish her first poem, "Before the Feast at Shushan," she later declined his workings. Many of Anne's poems were of a romantic episode with searchings for beauty. Spencer was a very nature and religious oriented poet. Anne also, wrote a lot about the meaning of the universe. She wasn't afraid of speaking her mind and was a very inspirational speaker. She wrote a poem acknowledging White America, and even worked with the NAACP to establish the Lynchburg chapter in 1918. W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Paul Robeson, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Maya Angelou have all visited Anne Spencer's house before. On July 27, 1975 Annie Bethel Spencer died in Lynchburg, Virginia.



Poetry Analysis



White Things


Most things are colorful things-
-the sky, earth, and sea.
Black men are most men;
but the white are free!
White things are rare things;
so rare, so rare
They stole from out a silvered
world--somewhere.


Finding earth-plains fair plains,
save greenly grassed,
They strewed white feathers of
cowardice, as they passed;


The golden stars with lances fine,
The hills all red and darkened pine,
They blanched with their want of power;
And turned the blood in a ruby rose
To a poor white poppy-flower.


They pyred a race of black, black men,
And burned them to ashes white; then,
Laughing, a young one claimed a skull,
For the skull of a black is white, not dull,
But a glistening awful thing


Made, it seems, for this ghoul to swing
In the face of God with all his might,
And swear by the hell that sired him:
"Man-maker, make white!"


Analysis

In this poem I was able to see the true aggressiveness of Spencer's voice in poems. She speaks with passion and inspiration. She uses a lot of symbolism and metaphors, comparing the colors of stars, hills and flowers. The golden stars with lances fine, The hills all red and darkened pine, They blanched with their want of power; And turned the blood in a ruby rose To a poor white poppy-flower. (14-19) She shows how in life on Earth there is so much color and detail, but white america refuses to acknowledge colored people.

In the last stanza Anne Spencer takes a swing towards the White Culture and attacks them. She's very aggressive and makes a statement with her strong voice. Spencer uses poems as a platform to speak her voice and make her opinion well known.

Work Cited

"anne spencer poems, Anne Spencer, Welcome to Famous Black Female Poet Anne Spencer Poems Webpage... Her poetry can be found here…."black writers, black authors, famous black writers, african american writers, harlem renaissance, harlem renaissance poets, harlem renaissance poems, famous african american authors, black famous poets, harlem renaissance writers, harlem renaissance poetr. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.afropoets.net/annespencer.html>.


"White Things - Written by Famous African American Poet Anne Spencer… Do enjoy reading this poem… Send it to a friend… "Famous African American Poems"." black writers, black authors, famous black writers, african american writers, harlem renaissance, harlem renaissance poets, harlem renaissance poems, famous african american authors, black famous poets, harlem renaissance writers, harlem renaissance poetr. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.afropoets.net/annespencer2.html>.