“The Black Finger”
Angelina Grimke’s poem, “The Black Finger” is one of the shortest poems that we have read this year. As far as I’m concerned, it is also one of the most intriguing poems that we have read this year. I have read the poem at least thirty or forty times trying to pick up on new things that I may have missed before. In all of my readings I haven’t necessarily picked up on any new words or phrases that lead me to believe new things. I have, however, formed new visions of what she is trying to say and why she uses certain things and objects in the text. After you talked about it in class, you pretty much convinced me that she was just painting a picture of a beautiful scene that included a sunset and a tree, and now I don’t believe that to be true. I just couldn’t accept that it had no point and that it was just about a picture. I just wondered how it could get into a big literature book like that without some kind of meaning behind it. When all said and done, just because I have a theory about what it means doesn’t necessarily signify that’s what Grimke was trying to convey. Through much debate with myself I have finally come to the conclusion that it is a tree being depicted in the sunset, and it is representing a black person standing tall, and proud. My first question from the text was why did Angelina Grimke use a cypress tree? If it did not have much meaning to it I would have assumed she would’ve just said a tree. After reading it several times this was the first thing that stuck out to me. Friar and Vakalo say “the cypress tree represents mourning and grief in Greek mythology” (Friar, Vakalo). This makes perfect sense to me. “The Black Finger” was written during the Harlem Renaissance, which was the dark time for the African American people. The cypress tree is the perfect example for what the African Americans were going through during this time and prior to this time period. I believe Grimke picked the perfect...
Cited: Fielding-Smith, Abigail. Hidden Meanings. Britain: New Statesman Ltd, 2009. Vol: 138
Issue: 4955 ISSN: 1364-7431 Page: 17
Friar, Kimon ., Vakalo, Eleni. The Cypress-tree. London: George Kearsley, 1775.
Grimke, Angelina. “The Black Finger”. Introduction to Literature. 10th Ed. Alison
Booth, and Kelley J. Mays. New York, London: W.W. Norton &
Company, 2010. 1269.
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