Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 – 1894) is one of the most enduring and beloved of Victorian poets. Born in London, she was youngest of four artistic and literary siblings, the best known of whom is the pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Her long poem Goblin Market, is perhaps her most famous work. She was praised by her contemporaries, including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and was considered by some as the natural successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Christina Rossetti’s poetry reflected her devotion, passion, pensiveness, and occasionally, playfulness. Read More→
Gabriela Mistral (April 7, 1889 – January 10, 1957, also known as Lucila Godoy Alcayaga) was a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, and feminist. She’s best known for being the first Latina to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Mistral stopped formally attending school at the age of fifteen to care for her sick mother, but continued to write poetry. Just two years later, heart completely broke after the sad deaths of her lover, Romeo Ureta, and a close nephew.
This heartbreak gave her the inspiration to create some of her best works, including Sonetos de la muerte (1914). Much of her later poetry was focused on the theme of death, as you’ll read in some of her poems, following. Here are ten poems by Gabriela Mistral about life, love, and death, both in their original Spanish, and in English translation.
There are times when you take more interest in a poet or an author after you read her obituary. This is what happened with Meena Alexander, whom I had read in passing but devoured in great detail, especially after I heard that she had succumbed to cancer on November 21, 2018 in New York.
Meena could be termed an international poet as she was of Indian origins, born in Allahabad in 1951 and raised in Kerala, India before the family moved to Sudan.
Meena finally made the U.S. and New York City her home, where she was a professor of English and Women’s Studies at City University of New York and Hunter College. For five years in between, she also did teaching stints in various universities in India. Meena’s writings clearly reflect her life — migration, the trauma of moving places, and finally reconciliation. Read More→
Frances Watkins Harper (1825 – 1911, also known as Frances E.W. Harper or Frances Ellen Watkins Harper) was an ardent suffragist, social reformer, and abolitionist in addition to her renown as a poet and author.
She wrote prolifically from the time she published her first collection of poetry in 1845, at the age of twenty. A freeborn African-American from Baltimore, Maryland, she dedicated her life to social causes, including abolition, women’s suffrage, and the quest for equality.
The dynamic Frances Harper became involved in anti-slavery societies in the early 1850s and was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Read More→
When Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley was published in 1773, it marked several significant accomplishments. It was the first book by a slave to be published in the Colonies, and only the third book by a woman in the American colonies to be published.
Phillis (not her original name) was brought to the North America in 1761 as part of the slave trade. She was bought from the slave market by John Wheatley of Boston, who gave her as a personal servant to his wife, Susanna. She was given the surname of the family, as was customary at the time. Read More→