Esther Popel:

By Katie Smilanich

external image shaw.jpg
Esther Popel
Esther Popel was born in Harrisburg, Pensylvania and graduated from college at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pensylvania. Esther was known as a talented young poet during the Harlem Renaissance period. She had several jobs such as a review editor for many American journals, a school teacher at two different schools, and a poet when she had the spare time. In her school at Francis Junior High and the Shaw Junior High she taught French and Spanish. Not only was Esther a wonderful poet, teacher, and editor, but she was also a great mother. She was married to a man named William A. Shaw who died in 1946. The couple had become parents to a beautiful daughter named Patricia Shaw Iverson after they had gotten married.
Esther Popel wrote a book called A Forest Pool about the challenges African Americans face along with many others such as Our Thirteenth-In Ohio, Give Me Strength, and October Prayer. Popel was active in literary salon (a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host) that was hosted by a poet named Georgia Douglas Johnson. She also became good friends with some other popular poets by the names of Langston Huges and Marita Bonner. Together they helped eachother write poems, and watch out for one another. Esther's poetry style was known as being lyrical, religious, and political.

Grant Me Strength

Give me the strength
Of verdant hills
Washed clean by summer rain;

Of purple hills
At peace when weary Day
Sinks quietly to rest
In Night's cool arms;

Of rugged, wind-whipped hills
That lift their heads
Above the petty, lowland, valley things,
And shake their shoulders free
Of bonds that hold
Them close to earth;

Of snow-capped hills
Sun-kissed by day, by night
Companioned by the stars;

Of grim volcanoes
Pregnant with the fires
Of molten fury!

Grant me strength,
Great God,
Like that of hills!


"Give me strength, Through verdant hills" (1-2) Esther Popel is asking God for strenght to carry on throughout her trials. The hills represent her challenges, and she wants strength to get over the hills. It's easy to get this interpretation, because we all know that she lived a hard, long life. She was a mother, wife, and worker who had to ballance out her life. Ester is trying to show her audience that she is not as strong as people think. She needs power too. As Popel says in stanza two "Sinks quietly into rest, In Night's cool arms." (6-7) It presents an imagery of peace and calmness. Even though Esther had many things to do, she could still find quietness and peace after a long day. It says "In Night's cool arms." which tells the audience that she found peace during the night time. Once she could lay her head down, she felt peace she could not feel during the day. After, when Popel states, "Pregnant with the fires, Of molten fury!" (18-19) she is talking about recieving the power to continue forward. She has asked God for the "fire", because she feels that she needs more power to get motivation. Motivation is the symbol, because it is what Esther needed to live. "Pregnant with the fires" is like an imagery of motivation growing bigger and bigger each day. After it has grown to the biggest size it can grow, you are happy and have something to keep with you throughout your life.

Works Cited
"Esther Popel « Harlem Renassiance Women Writers." Harlem Renassiance Women Writers. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.

"Harlem Renaissance Resources: Esther Popel." Northern Kentucky University. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <

"Tmplt." Good Morals. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.