African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Angelina Weld Grimke, "To Clarissa Scott Delany" (1927)

[Editor's Note: Clarissa Scott Delany died in 1927 at the age of 26 of a kidney infection. She published four poems during her brief life, in Opportunity, Palms, and Caroling Dusk.]


To CLARISSA SCOTT DELANY

By ANGELINA W. GRIMKE

1

She has not found herself a hard pillow
   And a long hard bed,
A chilling cypress, a wan willow
   For her gay young head... 
   These are for the dead.
                           
2

Does the violet-lidded twilight die
   And the piercing dawn
And the white clear moon and the night- blue sky. . .
   When they are gone?

3

Does the shimmering note
In the shy, shy throat
Of the swaying bird?

4

O, does children's laughter
Live not after
It is heard?

5

Does the dear, dear shine upon dear, dear things,
In the eyes, on the hair,
On waters, on wings .
Live no more anywhere?

6

Does the tang of the sea, the breath of frail flowers,
   Of fern crushed, of clover,
Of grasses at dark, of the earth after showers
   Not linger, not hover?

7

Does the beryl in tarns, the soft orchid in haze,
The primrose through tree-tops, the unclouded jade
Of the north sky, all earth's flamings and russets and grays
   Simply smudge out and fade?

8

And all loveliness, all sweetness, all grace,
All the gay questing, all wonder, all dreaming,
They that cup beauty that veiled opaled vase,
Are they only the soul of a seeming?

9

O, hasn't she found just a little, thin door
And passed through and closed it between?
O, aren't those her light feet upon that light floor,
... That her laughter? . . . O, doesn't she lean
As we do to listen? . . . O, doesn't it mean
   She is only unseen, unseen?

Published in Ebony and Topaz, 1927

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