Late-nineteenth-century women poets shed midcentury sentimentality unevenly and at some cost, losing a sense of privacy, a (Christian) frame of reference, and an "imagined community" of women who sharedtheir worldview. They also gained more public, secular, and professional sources of identity. The exact nature of this postsentimental self was unclear. Postsentimental poets often wrote in the "genteel tradition," which trumpeted eternal truth and beauty while working from aposition of subjective instability. Ultimately, their verses must be seenas powerfully fluid and transitional, registering (like the Woman'sBuilding Library) women's struggle to inhabit more public formsof authority.