"The Black Finger" and "Tenebris" [Latin for "darkness"]
Are these two poems about race in America?
If not, how do you interpret them? If so, how are they different from each other?
What do you make of the appearance of the poems "The Black Finger" and "Tenebris" on the page? Are they visual poems?
How are these poems similar or different from others you have read? (imagist; present a single image without explanation) What is the effect of emphasizing a single image without giving much background? ("Imagism" was characteristic of early twentieth century poetry)
What takes the place of rhyme and rhythm in the poems? Are the pauses and line breaks important?
In "The Black Finger," at what time of day do we have a "gold, gold sky"? Why does the poet choose a cypress tree? Why does she present the tree as black rather than dark green? As a solitary tree rather than as part of a hedge?
Is the use of open questions to end the poem effective? What are some possible answers to these?
To what do you think "Tenebris" is referring? What do you make of the juxtaposition of darkness, "night," shadow," a huge black hand, plucking, "blood," wind, etc.?
In 1927, what events might African-Americans have associated with a tree? What do you make of the fact that the white man's house is made of bricks? That it is plucked at by a black hand?
What are some unpleasant suggestions or sensations throughout the poem? What is meant by the final question, and can it be answered?
Is Grimke a good poet? Why or why not?