Audre Lorde’s poem “The Night-Blooming Jasmine” expresses its author’s meditation on the “Lady of the Night,” a fragrant, night-flowering jasmine plant native to the tropics, whose white, five-cleft blooms resemble stars. The poem is made up of a series of reflections on a night-blooming jasmine the speaker encounters “along the searoad” between her “house” and “tasks” that lie before her. In five stanzas of five to twelve lines of free verse, the speaker describes how the sight of the flowers opening at night triggers or “calls down” the desire to create a song about the “star-breathed” or five-cleft blooms of jasmine. She imagines this song played on “a flute/ carved from the legbone of a gull,” an instrument appropriate to the nature of the flower.
In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker begins to find points of comparison between herself and the night-blooming flower. She describes herself as a being strung together with wire “upon which pain will not falter/ nor predict.” The speaker admits she has not been a stranger to the “arena” of pain, suggesting she has fought this adversary before at “high noon” much like a gladiator or bullfighter or gunfighter. She finds this pain is not “an enemy/ to be avoided” but rather a “challenge.” From the challenge of her pain, the speaker’s “neck [grows] strong.” The metal at the core of her being, once “struck” by the challenge of pain, rings...
(The entire section is 580 words.)