Jessie Redmon Fauset

October 16, 2006


Best known for literary editorship of the NAACP publication The Crisis
Discovered and promoted Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay
One of the Harlem Renaissance’s most prolific novelists
Mentored women writers thorough literary salons in her home and developed a poetic voice described as the New Negro Woman’s voice
Born in a Philadelphia suburb, was the only African American in her high school and college classes
First African American at Cornell University
Denied teaching position in Philadelphia because of her race, moved to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to teach
Poetry focuses on African-American middle-class life as seen through the eyes of the New Negro Woman


How did it happen that we quarreled? / We two who loved each other so! / Only the moment before we were one, / Using language that lovers know. / And then of a sudden, a word, a phrase, / That struck at the heart like a poignard’s blow. / And you went berserk, and I saw red, / And love lay between us, bleeding and dead! / Dead! When we’d loved each other so!
How could it happen that we quarreled! / Think of the things we used to say! / ‘What does it matter, dear, what you do? / Love such as ours has to last for aye!; / – ‘Try me! I long to endure your test!’ / – ‘Love, we shall always love, come what may!’ / What are the words the apostle saith? / ‘In the power of the tongue are Life and Death!’ / Think of the
things we used to say!

-Words! Words! (in whole)

Dear, when we sit in that high, placid room, / ‘Loving’ and ‘doving’ as all lovers do, / Laughing and leaning so close in the gloom,-
What is the change that creeps sharp over you? / Just as you raise your fine hand to my hair, / Bringing that glance of mixed wonder and rue?
‘Black hair,’ you murmur, ‘so lustrious and rare, / Beautiful too, like a raven’s smooth wing; / Surely no gold locks were ever more fair.’
Why do you say every night that same thing? / Turning your mind to some old constant theme, / Half meditating and half murmuring?
Tell me, that girl of your young manhood’s dream, / Her you loved first in that dim long ago- / Had she blue eyes? Did her hair goldly gleam?
Does she come back to you softly and slow, / Stepping wraith-wise from the depths of the past? / Quickened and fired by the warmth of our glow?
There, I’ve divined it! My wit holds you fast. / Nay, no excuses; ’tis little I care, / I knew a lad in my own girlhood’s past, – / Blue eyes he had and such waving gold hair!

-Touche (in whole)

Touche is a French fencing term, meaning here “I’ve got you”
African-American poets are forced to redefine metaphor: black can no longer mean evil, white good
The man in the poem has no words, weak description of her hair, she understands and forgives him
Both have a traditional view of a fairy prince, or princess

On summer afternoons I sit / Quiescent by you in the park, / And idly watch the sunbeams gild / And tint the ash-trees’ bark.
Or else I watch the squirrels frisk / And chaffer in the grassy lane; / And all the while I mark your voice / Breaking with love and pain.
I know a woman who would give / Her chance of heaven to take my place; / To see the love-light in your eyes, / The love-glow on your face!
And there’s a man whose lightest word / Can set my chilly blood afire; / Fulfillment of his least behest / Defines my life’s desire.
But he will none of me. Nor I / Of you. Nor you of her. ‘Tis said / The world is full of jests like these. – / I wish that I were dead.

-L Vie C’est la Vie (in whole)

The French expression la vie c’est la vie means ‘life-that’s life’


2 Responses to “Jessie Redmon Fauset”

  1. kisha Says:

    a nice lady who fufilled her dreams

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