Rita Dove was born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio. In 1987, she was the second African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. From 1993 to 1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American to have been appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 from the previous “consultant in poetry” position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as “special consultant in poetry” for the Library of Congress’s bicentennial year from 1999 to 2000.
Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting
Less than the charting of each dawn’s resolutions,
less than each evening’s trickle of doubt,
less than a crown’s weight in silver, a diamond’s
scratch against glass, less than the touted
ill luck of my rich beginnings—and yet
more than Eve’s silence, my mute ingratitude.
Rita Dove is widely honored and known, but I couldn’t resist including her in this series, if only because I am so susceptible to sonnets. This one also has some stellar enjambment and the imagery takes my breath away–as does the closing couplet with the wish to live without scrutiny (and that internal rhyme with mutiny, oh my goodness gracious). This is poetry meant to be spoken and not just read.