Anne Spencer

By Tristan Reeve


Anne Spencer Biography

Anne Spencer was born in Henry County, Virginia on February 6, 1882. She was an only child to parents Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales. When Anne was six, her parents divorced, and her and her mom Sarah moved to West Virginia. When financial troubles made it hard for her mother to support both her and Anne, she placed Anne in the care of William T. Dixie, an important figure in the black community. In the area of her foster parents' home, the race was predominantly white. Because of this, her mother withheld her from attending any schools as a child. Anne read newspapers, poems, and novels as a child which taught her the effectiveness of language. When she reached the age of 11, Anne attended Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, a school that enrolled African American students.

Anne had been writing poems ever since she was a little girl. Her potential for poetry and writing was discovered by friend James Weldon Johnson, a member of the NAACP. With the help of H.L. Mencken, her writing became very powerful and inspirational. She began publishing her poems in the early 1920's. Her poetry focused on the themes of equality, human search for beauty, and meaning in the universe. Anne worked as a poet during the Harlem Renaissance. She was aware of segregation during this time, although she didn't let it limit her abilities and talents. She spoke freely and inspirationally through all poems that she wrote, which in turn inspired other African Americans to keep moving forward, not let segregation define them, and discover beauty and peace in the world.

Anne got married in 1901 to Edward Spencer. She loved gardening and her 3 children, which were her inspirations.

Black Man o' Mine- Anne Spencer

Black Man o' Mine,
If the world were your lover,
It could not give what I give to you,
Or the ocean would yield and you could discover
Its ages of treasure to hold and to view;
Could it fill half the measure of my heart's portion . . .
Just for you living, just for you giving all this devotion,
Black man o' mine.

Black man o' mine,
As I hush and caress you, close to my heart,
All your loving is just your needing what is true;
Then with your passing dark comes my darkest part,
For living without your love is only rue.
Black man o' mine, if the world were your lover
It could not give what I give to you.


This poem to me brought a feeling of happiness, love, and devotion. Anne Spencer's poems having recurring themes. These themes are focused around equality, human search for beauty, and the meaning in the universe. This poem could fall under the concept of the human search for beauty and peace. When she talks about loving the black man in this poem, one could relate love as beauty. Loving one another and being peaceful could allow someone to have beauty. Her tone in this poem is very thoughtful and insightful. She uses a lot of symbolism to get her meaning and message across to the reader.

In this poem, Anne Spencer uses strong imagery in some of her lines. An example is "Or the ocean would yield and you could discover, It's ages of treasure to hold and to view" (4-5). Using this poetic device of imagery, Spencer paints a picture in the readers mind about the concepts she is trying to get across. She also uses personification of the world being the black man's lover. This could mean that she loves the man more than the world does.

Anne Spencer was a very good poet with a very strong voice that reached others and inspired them to be better people.

Works Cited

"Additional Poems by Anne Spencer." Welcome to English « Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Anne Spencer: Biography from" Wiki Q&A combined with free online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>.

"anne spencer poems, Anne Spencer, Welcome to Famous Black Female Poet Anne Spencer Poems Webpage... Her poetry can be found hereÂ…." 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. 14 Apr. 2011. <>.