Poem #49: The Want of You by Angelina Weld Grimké

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Title: The Want of You
Photograph of Angelina Weld Grimké
Source: Wikimedia

Author: Angelina Weld Grimké

Source:  Poets.org


A hint of gold where the moon will be; 
Through the flocking clouds just a star or two; 
Leaf sounds, soft and wet and hushed, 
And oh! the crying want of you. 

Like the feeling Grimke evokes in this poem, this poem is short and fleeting.  It feels like the memory of a taste that she looks to evoke with this imagery of something there but almost imperceptible yet inevitable.  Tied to the title, "The Want of You", it seems that the imperceptible absence in each of the images (flecks of gold, stars through the clouds, and subdued leaves) are about how longing can be ever-present, no matter the sits before us. And maybe it hasn't been a desire for another person, but our minds when occupied about something or someone, can maintain these dual thinking lines of both the world in front of us and where our mind is pulled.  

Beyond the poem's emotional grounding, I really liked the visual and sound imagery that Grimke invokes here. I'm curious about the first one ("a hint of gold where the moon will be").  Does that mean at the edge of the moon, the direction it moves in, there is a perceptible hint of gold?  It is now something I need to go see.  Is that hint of gold, the sun in some sort of reflection?  Equally interesting is the "lead sounds, soft and wet and hushed".  When I read that, I think immediately of a pile of dead leaves and their subdued nature when wet but Grimke could very well have been thinking of living leaves still attached to trees, weighed down the rain.  

And of course, now that I spend a bit more time ruminating on this poem, I realized I committed the act of reading lines individually and not together.  Thus, the moon's hint of gold is likely behind a cloud and though some stars are visible, there is little sound from the leaves (because of rain or absence of wind?). Is the crying the rain that wets the leaves and if so, we have a clearer sense of the metaphor as a whole of the poem?  The poem in captures the speaker's anguish through the metaphor of a forest night.  

This reflection becomes one of those examples whereby writing about something helps me to tear back its layers a bit more clearly than what I originally saw.

Those are my thoughts.  What did you find interesting about the poem?

About the reflections
This poem is part of a 365 day challenge project that focuses on a poem a day.  Similar projects have included short shorties and photo reflections. Part of the intention of this year's project is to develop a better appreciation and means of reflecting on poetry, something that has never been a strong suit for me.  These reflections, therefore, do not represent a definitive assessment of the work by me. They are merely an opportunity for me to have a public conversation about what they mean in order to help myself better understand them and mayhaps have a conversation with readers for further insight.  

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