Blanche Taylor Dickinson

By: Ina Hoang

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(No Picture Available) "A photo of Dikinson appears in a July 1927 issue of Oppotunity when she was awarded the Buckner Prize for "A Sonnet and a Rondeau" inwhich she appears to be a beautiful young women with sensitive eyes, well-coiffed hair, and a sensual mouth." (Honey 77)

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Blanche Taylor Dickinson is very mysterious and not much is known about her. She had a biography Opportunity during July of 1927. Dickinson's publications span a very short time from only 1927-1929, two years in total. In 1927 Dickinson won the Buckner Award for Conspicuous Promise. Not much is known about her but some of what we do know is that she was living in Sewickley, PA during they 1930s. She attended Simmons University and then taught in Kentucky for several years, most likely when she was publishing her poetry in Opportunity, The Crisis, American Poet, Ebony and Topaz, and Caroling Dusk. It is predicted that the was only in her early thirties when she was writing for these magazines however, after 1929 she completely disappears. Her poetry's main topics typically addresses the pain of women who feel invisible and ugly compared to the whites standards of beauty. Blanche Dickinson was the wife of Verdell Dickinson, who lived from 1898-1978, his occupation was a truck driver. He was born in Trenton, KY. They lived in Sewickley together during the 1930s according to the US census. Dickinson dies in 1972 and is buried in Simpson County, KY, in the Pleasant View Cemetery.

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Four great Walls

Four great walls have hemmed me in.

Four strong, high walls:

Right and wrong,

Shall and shan’t.

The mighty pillars tremble when

My conscious palls

And it sings its song-

I can’t, I can’t

If for a moment Samson’s strength

Were given me I’d shove

Them away from where I stand;

Free, I know I’d love

To ramble soul and all,

And never dread to strike a wall.

Again I wonder would that be

Such a happy state for me…

Then going, being doing, sham-

And never knowing where I am.

I might not love freedom at all;

My tired wings might crave a wall-

Four walls to rise and pen me in This conscious world with guarded men.

Analyzing: "Four great walls have hemmed me in./Four strong,high walls;/ Right or wrong/,/ shall or shan't." (Dickinson 1-4) She seems to be saying that she feels trapped maybe by the racism as a black person or even trapped by what is expected of a woman. Dickinson liked to write about a woman's struggle with feeling ugly or invisible compared to the men's glory maybe she feels trapped by that feeling. "The mighty pillars tremble when" (5-6) It seems to fall when she begins to realize she is just as good and as smart as men, or equal to the whites. "If for a moment Samson's strength/Were given me I'd shove" (9-10) Dickinson might have been trying to say If she was given the strength or the courage to fight back she would, but she fears what would happen to her. She might also be saying she wishes she had courage to fight back which can be supported by this line "To ramble soul and all,/ And never dread to strike a wall." (13-14). She might be saying that she could never fear doing anything that would get her in trouble even though it may be a strong force that will never give way.

"Such a happy state for me..." (16) This one seems to be the most obvious to me and its that she would be happy if she had the courage. Sometimes she might wonder if she would really like being not discriminated against. she starts to second guess herself like a lot of people in the world. "I might not love freedom at all;" (19) She might be saying that or she might be saying as a grown up woman I should like my freedom but how can I love it if there is always men above me? During lines 20 and 21 she says "My tired wings might crave a wall-/ Four walls rise and pen me in" She might get tired and done fighting against what seems like a hopeless cause so she sinks behind the protection and familiarness comfort of men always above her which seem like that might be the case because the last line says "The conscious world with guarded men." Dickinson writes a lot about a woman's pain and I think this poem was wishing and dreaming about what it would be like if she had the courage to actually fight for woman rights, but in the end decides to sink back to the familiarity of men always being above her.




Crowe-Carraco;, C., N. J. Dawson, "Alice Allison Dunnigan, and " The Crisis. "Notable Kentucky African Americans - ." University of Kentucky - Welcome to the University of Kentucky. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/subject.php?sub_id=8>.
Honey, Maureen. "Shadowed dreams: women's poetry of ... - Google Books." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://books.google.com/books?id=UjQib1iRRvUC&pg=PA77&lpg=PA77&dq=Blanche+Taylor+Dickinson&source=bl&ots=6P-wLwZ2jE&sig=qNfo4XmrlEp4yxD-AKLp1rmNM00&hl=en&ei=ygujTZCFF9TZiALri8mSAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Blanche%>.

I only have a paragraph for her information because her publishing time was so short and she never really came out in to public, or wrote a longer biography then that, the two sources I had were very short.

- Ina Hoang