Poem #50: El Beso by Angelina Weld Grimké

Estimated Reading Time:  2 minutes

Title: El Besto
Photograph of Angelina Weld Grimké
Source: Wikimedia

Author: Angelina Weld Grimké

Source:  Poets.org


Twilight—and you
Quiet—the stars;
Snare of the shine of your teeth,
Your provocative laughter,
The gloom of your hair;
Lure of you, eye and lip;
Yearning, yearning,
Languor, surrender;
Your mouth,
And madness, madness,
Tremulous, breathless, flaming,
The space of a sigh;
Then awakening—remembrance,
Pain, regret—your sobbing;
And again, quiet—the stars,
Twilight—and you.

In short tense lines, Grimke captures an essence of a passionate kiss and while I have never thought of it before, it is a beautiful description of what happens.  It both starts and ends with twilight and that makes me think about the moment when two people look at each other and exist in this limbo space of "yes or no"--it is a twilight, an in-between space.  The quiet is the moment where it seems it has been decided between both.  From there, each line reads like a pulling together of the two. Words like "snare," "provocative," "lure," "yearning" "languor," and "surrender"--all seem to slowly pull the two mouths together for the kiss which is described as "madness, madness" and such as follows.  But then we have "your sobbing" which is a curious line and makes me wonder if it is the sobbing for the parting of lips?  Is the kiss so powerful that it leaves one person overwhelmed with emotion?  Or is the kiss a good-bye kiss--a kiss of a parting lover?

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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  1. theyre gay. thats the whole point. She breaks apart and sobs because she believes that what she has done is a sin and she will be punished for it.


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