There are many reasons to write poetry. Love is one of these reasons. When it concerns a lost love, it can lead to poems such as “Lolotte, who attires my hair,” written by Jessie Redmon Fauset.
About Jesse Redmon Fauset
Jessie Redmon Fauset (born as Jessie Redmona Fauset) was born on April 27, 1882, in Fredericksville (New Jersey, US). We know her for her poems, essays, novels and as an educator. She studied at Cornell University (Classical Languages) and the University of Pennsylvania (French). Then she became a teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington DC. In 1919 she started as a literary editor for The Crisis – the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She left this job in 1927 and had several teaching jobs until 1944.
Between 1924 and 1933, Fauset published four novels and wrote several poems. She had been writing poetry since 1912.
Fauset died of heart disease on April 30 1961.
About the poem
One has to remember, that the emancipation of Afro-Americans in the United States is something that is of recent history. Before that time, there wasn’t real freedom – even when slavery was abolished. This poem written by Jessie Redmon Fauset is written in the time when emancipation and equality where things so many dreamt about.
The poem is a good example of poetry that is now known as The Harlem Renaissance. This was a period in the twenties when Afro-American poets and artists thrived. In this period the artist took the stage, rather than settling for a role in the background. This lead to beautiful expressive poems. The one written by Fauset is a typical example of such fine poetry.
Lolotte is the crying woman, who lost a loved one. This is beyond any race or colour. This is grief in the deepest form.
Lolotte, who attires my hair
Lolotte, who attires my hair,
Lost her lover. Lolotte weeps;
Trails her hand before her eyes;
Hangs her head and mopes and sighs,
Mutters of the pangs of hell.
Fills the circumambient air
With her plaints and her despair.
Looks at me:
‘May you never know, Mam’selle
Love’s harsh cruelty.’
— Jessie Redmon Fauset