Thursday, May 23, 2019

Poem For A Thursday: Brooks

Sadie and Maud

Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed at home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine-toothed comb. 
She didn't leave a tangle in.
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits
In all the land. 
Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.
Every one but Sadie
Nearly died of shame. 
When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine-tooth comb.) 
Maud, who went to college
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.
-Gwendolyn Brooks

My spellchecker doesn't like "livingest," but I love that word.

This is from Gwendolyn Brooks' first book, A Street In Bronzeville, of 1945. Bronzeville is a neighborhood on the near south side of Chicago, historically black and, by the standards allowed for African-Americans, middle-class. There's not much of it left any more, I think, what with various urban renewal projects.

I was a kid when Gwendolyn Brooks was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois, and so I guess I've always known of her, but I'm quite sure the poem we were generally given at the time was "We Real Cool" about the dangers of skipping school...

Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness is featuring Maggie Smith this week.


  1. At first I was thinking of Geraldine Brooks but soon I realized that I was mistaken. I've never heard to her so thanks for introducing me to a poet laureate! Fun!

  2. That was exactly the thought when I saw Jennifer was featuring Maggie Smith. What? I didn't know she wrote poems, too! Is there nothing Dame Maggie can't do?

    1. Exactly! And I was surprised to learn that Geraldine Brooks was African-American. I bet she would be surprised too, lol! :-D

  3. Such straightforward language. And people think poetry is impenetrable! (Sometimes it does feel that way.)

    1. Some of them are, of course, and even some great ones, I guess, but I tend to like poems that are metrical and are in everyday language. Brooks definitely fits that bill for me.