Three Graces–Inspired Poetry
By Katherine White, NCMA Deputy Director
Artist Mickalene Thomas re-creates the Three Graces, goddesses of Greek and Roman mythology, in her mixed-media painting Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires (2011). The Three Graces represent values such as charm, beauty, and creativity, and by depicting them as modern African American women, Thomas shows the Three Graces do not have a single story.
In honor of Three Graces, we have selected poems that celebrate women and their creative, beautiful, and multifaceted nature.
- “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood
- “A Song in the Front Yard” by Gwendolyn Brooks
- “They shut me up in prose” by Emily Dickinson
- “Mothers” by Nikki Giovanni
- “To the Unknown Goddess” by Rudyard Kipling
- “Heavy Women” by Sylvia Plath
- “Sonnet 130” by William Shakespeare
- “On Imagination” by Phillis Wheatley
Are you interested in capturing your ideas about the beauty, creativity, and intelligence of women? We recommend trying your hand at the Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnet, which often captures love or devotion, and we invite you to post poems inspired by women, Three Graces, or other objects in the NCMA collection. Share your poems on social media and tag #ncartmuseum.
In its simplest form, the Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnet is composed of 14 lines. It is structured in four verses: three quatrains, which are verses made up of four lines, and a concluding rhyming couplet, which is a verse made up of two lines. It has a distinct end-rhyme pattern: abab – cdcd – efef – gg. Generally, the poet’s ideas or mood shift in the first line of the third quatrain, and the poet begins to express a slightly different thought on the subject.
Check out two famous sonnets for inspiration!.
Poetry Game Challenge
Are you looking for a game that promotes creative and critical thinking? Print one or more sonnets and cut each line into pieces of three to four words. Challenge yourself or others to put the sonnets back together by following the rules of sonnets described above.