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By Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud went to college.

Sadie stayed at home.

Sadie scraped life

With a fine-tooth comb.


She didn’t leave a tangle in.

Her comb found every strand.

Sadie was one of the livingest chits

In all the land.


Sadie bore two babies

Under her maiden name.

Maud and Ma and Papa

Nearly died of shame.


When Sadie said her last so-long

Her girls struck out from home.

(Sadie had left as heritage

Her fine-tooth comb.)


Maud, who went to college,

Is a thin brown mouse.

She is living all alone

In this old house.


Gwendolyn Brooks, “Sadie and Maud” from Selected Poems. Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions.

Source: Selected Poems (Harper & Row, 1963)

Poet Bio

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, though she spent most of her life on Chicago’s south side, whose Bronzeville neighborhood she memorialized in her poetry. She received the Pulitzer Prize — the first African American so honored — for Annie Allen in 1950.  At age 68 Brooks was the first black woman appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Later she served as Poet Laureate of Illinois, personally funding literary award ceremonies and visiting grade schools, colleges, universities, prisons, hospitals, and drug rehabilitation centers. She was devoted to encouraging young people to write.

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