William Drake: On "A Mona Lisa"

The poignance of the need for an ideal of womanhood, an image of self as spiritually beautiful, can be seen especially in Angelina Grimké, who never attempted to publish her sheaf of love poems addressed to women, written over a period of years to, probably, a number of different people. "Rosabel," for example, plays on the name "Rose,"


    whose soul unfolds white petaled,

Touch her soul, rose white,

    Rose whose thoughts unfold gold petaled

Blossom in her light,

    Rose whose heart unfolds red petaled

Quick in her slow heart's stir

    Tell her white, gold, red my love is;--

And for her,--for her.


There are tormented poems of crises in relationships, poems of loss, poems of painful yearning, all seemingly written only for her own eyes. There are sensuous poems, like "Mona Lisa," ending in self-obliteration:


I should like to creep

Through the long brown grasses

    That are your lashes . . .,


and "deeply drown" in "the leaf-brown pools/ That are your shadowed eyes." "I dream of you all night," she says to "A Woman." A late-written, untitled poem recalls scalding memories,


The hot night

Hot whispers

Hot arms

Hot lips . . .

My old wasted body

With my wrinkled hands

    On my lap

    Hot, hard tears

    All because of you . . .


Title William Drake: On "A Mona Lisa" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author William Drake Criticism Target Angelina Weld Grimké
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 15 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The First Wave: Women Poets in America, 1915-1945
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