Anne Spencer,

By Spencer Coombs

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Anne Bethel Spencer was an American Black poet who was very prominent in the Harlem Renaissance time period as well as the New Negro Movement. She lived most of her life in Virginia, and she was born there, and passed away there. (February 6, 1882, Henry County, Virginia - July 27, 1975, Lynchburg, Virginia). She was mostly known for her poetry, but also was a believer in equality and equal education for all people ("Spencer"). She was friends with many of the other Harlem Renaissance activists, such as Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, George Carver, Martin Luther King Jr, and W.E.B. Dubois. She was the only child of Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales, but when her parents separated, she moved with her mother to West Virginia. When she went to school in 1899, she met her future husband, Edward Spencer. James Weldon Johnson, another Harlem Renaissance poet, was friends with Edward. He helped Anne Spencer to Discover her talents as a poet, as well as give her the penn name, Anne Spencer ("Spencer").
From 1903 until her death in 1975, she worked in a home in Lynchburg, Virginia. As an adult, she became a more prominent poet and her work grew more popular. The Harlem Renaissance helped her out quite a bit because it allowed her to meet many people like herself. These people influenced her in a positive way and also helped her poetry become more popular. This eventually led to her works being published. Johnson and W.E.B. Dubois would often come visit her house to help her with her poetry, as well as talk about the news. These people also got her more involved with the NAACP, which influenced her poems quite a bit. She used her influences and self expression to show many NAACP members what they should do and how she felt ("Spencer"). Although most of her poems were showings of her deepest thoughts, it is apparent that she was influenced by many other people. Her most important role, however, was being a mom. She and Edward raised three children, named Bethel, Alroy, and Chauncey Spencer ("Spencer").

Poetry Analysis

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!


Anne Spencer was a very influential poet who preached the words of equality and fairness throughout her poetry. She believed that every person should be treated equally and fair, and no one should be left out or discriminated against. She felt love for everyone, no matter what that person felt for her. She often said that she wished people could live forever, and many of her poems were about death and how sad it was (Spencer). She wished that no one had to die, so she could spend an eternity with her husband and family. She had many close friends, who she treated as family. One of the poems that this idea was most apparent in was "Life-Long, Poor Browning...". She uses a lot of imagery in this poem, and can literally paint the picture in your mind with words. By the end of the poem, most people are left with a somber, thoughtful feeling in their minds. This poem allows, and even forces, one to think about life and how precious it is.
Anne uses a lot of imagery in her poems, and especially in this one. Some examples of imagery within this poem are, English Gardens (2), Clipt Yews (3), Preached Allies (3), Cornered hedges (5), Waterways, sedately enchanneled (6), and Wild Country Side (7). These are a few adjectives that help to put a true image in the readers mind. They help to provide a beautiful, somber tone to the poem. These adjectives all describe good things, and never bad. This shows that she liked the person who she wrote this poem about. Her other poems also show signs of sadness from death ass well as imagery. Her poems are also very interesting and almost always have a deeper, true meaning.
Anne Spencer was a wonderful poet who lived a very eventful life. her many influences helped her to write many poems which most likely influenced others. Although she lived a mostly good life, her poems were usually sadder. Many say her poems were like this because of her association with the NAACP and her exposure to racism and discrimination. She motivated many to action, and was a large part of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

Works Cited:

  1. "Anne Spencer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <>.
  2. "Anne Spencer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <>.
  3. "Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum." Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <>.
  4. "General Logon Page." General Logon Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <>.
  5. "PAL: AnneSpencer (1882-1975)." California State University Stanislaus | Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <>.