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| by Rebekah Irwin

Special Collections, MiddPoints

Opening from Rita Dove's “Lady Freedom Among Us”

Rita Dove, a Pultizer Prize winning poet, was the first Black American to serve as United States Poet Laureate.

Her poem, “Lady Freedom Among Us,” was written in 1993 to mark the return of the newly cleaned bronze statue perched atop the Capitol dome.

This three-dimensional version of “Lady Freedom,” housed in Special Collections, was created by Janus Press, founded in 1955 and located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in the town of West Burke. This brightly colored, paper construction is one of only 100 copies. Beyond Middlebury, it can be found in the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.

Covers of Rita Dove's book of poetryhttps://mbury.iii.com/record=b1392505~S2https://mbury.iii.com/record=b1392505~S2https://mbury.iii.com/record=b1392505~S2https://mbury.iii.com/record=b1392505~S2
Front and back cover of “Lady Freedom Among Us” by Rita Dove and Janus Press.
Inside of Rita Dove's book of poetry
Inside page opening of “Lady Freedom Among Us.”

Here are the last lines of Dove’s poem:

don’t think you can forget her
don’t even try
she’s not going to budge
no choice but to grant her space
crown her with sky
for she is one of the many
and she is each of us

Special Collections will continue to feature Black authors throughout February as we celebrate Black History Month. 

Keep an eye on our Instagram for more.

Questions? Email specialcollections@middlebury.edu