On today in 1882, Anne B. Spencer was born in Henry County, Virginia. She was a poet and participated in the New Negro Movement and Harlem Renaissance. Spencer was the first Virginian and first African American to have poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry. She was also an activist for equality and education opportunities.
Life-Long, Poor Browning…
Life-long, poor Browning never knew Virginia,
Or he’d not grieved in Florence for April sallies
Back to English gardens after Euclid’s linear:
Clipt yews, Pomander Walks, and preached alleys;
Primroses, prim indeed, in quiet ordered hedges,
Waterways, soberly, sedately enchanneled,
No thin riotous blade even among the sedges,
All the wild country-side tamely impaneled . . .
Dead, now, dear Browning, lives on in heaven,–
(Heaven’s Virginia when the year’s at its Spring)
He’s haunting the byways of wine-aired leaven
And throating the notes of the wildings on wing;
Here canopied reaches of dogwood and hazel,
Beech tree and redbud fine-laced in vines,
Fleet clapping rills by lush fern and basil,
Drain blue hills to lowlands scented with pines . . .
Think you he meets in this tender green sweetness
Shade that was Elizabeth . . . immortal completeness!
To learn more about Anne Bethel Spencer, click here.