Gloria T. Hull: On "A Mona Lisa"

Her poetic themes themes of sadness and void, longing and frustration (which commentators have been at a loss to explain) relate directly to Grimké's convoluted life and thwarted sexuality. One also notes the self-abnegation and diminution that mark her work. It comes out in her persistent vision of herself as small and hidden, for instance, and in the death-wishing verses of "A Mona Lisa" and other poems.

[. . . .]

"A Mona Lisa" . . . begins:

 

I should like to creep

Through the long brown grasses

    That are your lashes.

 

As one might predict, Grimké's unpublished poetry contains an even heavier concentration of love lyrics. in these can be found the raw feeling, feminine pronouns, and womanly imagery that have been excised or muted in the published poems:

 

Thou are to me a lone white star,

That I may gaze on from afar;

But I may never never press

My lips on thine in mute caress,

E'en touch the hem of thy pure dress,

    Thou art so far, so far....

 

Or:

 

My sweetheart walks down laughing ways

Mid dancing glancing sunkissed ways

    And she is all in white ...

 

Most of these lyrics either chronicle a romance that is now dead or record a cruel and unrequited love.

Details

Criticism Overview
Title Gloria T. Hull: On "A Mona Lisa" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Gloria T. Hull Criticism Target Angelina Weld Grimké
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 15 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Color, Sex, and Poetry: Three Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance
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