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SELECTED POEMS

Adrienne Rich
(1935-…)

“I did this because I was finished with the idea of


a poem as a single, encapsulated event, a work of
art complete in itself; I knew my life was changing,
my work was changing, and I needed to indicate to
readers my sense of being engaged in a long,
continuous process.”
Adrienne Rich

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LIFE AND WORKS OF ADRIENNE RICH
To a significant extent, all poets are concerned with transformation. The
very making of a poem involves a transformation from perceived reality or
experience into a verbal utterance shaped by the poet's imagination and craft.
For Adrienne Rich, however, transformation goes beyond the act of writing;
it extends to the culture at large through the poem's ability to challenge
given assumptions and offer new visions.
Transformation is thus private as well as public, and Rich's poetry and
essays have explored the space where these realms intersect, incorporating
feminist, lesbian, historical, non-capitalist, and humanitarian, multi-racial,
and multi-cultural points of view. The form of her poems has evolved with
her content, moving from tight formalist lyrics to more experimental poems
using a combination of techniques: long lines, gaps in the line, interjections
of prose, juxtaposition of voices and motifs, didacticism, and informal
expression. Indeed, no poet's career reflects the cultural and poetic
transformations undergone in the United States during the 2Oth century
better than that of Adrienne Rich.
Rich demonstrated talent early in life, writing poems under her father's
tutelage as a child. By the time she graduated from Radcliff College her first
book, A Change of World (1951), had been selected by W.H. Auden for the
Yale Younger Poets Prize. This and her second book, The Diamond Cutters
(1955), capture alienation and loss through the distancing devices of
Modernist for malism, but both books contain poems that hint at her future
thematic concerns. “Storm Warnings,” from A Change of World, speaks of
people “Who live in troubled regions” and foreshadows unspecified but
disturbing change:
“Weather abroad and weather in the heart alike come on Regardless
of prediction.”
“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” offers an image of power revealed and
restrained by domestic arts. Three poems in The Diamond Cutters - “Picture
by Vuillard,” “Love in the Museum” and “Ideal Landscape” - question the
version of reality offered by art, while “Living in Sin” depicts a woman's
growing dissatisfaction with her lover and living situation.
Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), which reflects the tensions she
experienced as a wife and mother in the 1950s, marks a substantial change in
Rich's style and subject matter. “The experience of motherhood,” Rich wrote
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in “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity” (1982), “was eventually
to radicalise me.” Part of that radicalising process involved Rich's
relationship to both poetry and history. In 1956 she began dating her poems
by year:
“I did this because I was finished with the idea of a poem as a single,
encapsulated event, a work of art complete in itself; I knew my life
was changing, my work was changing, and I needed to indicate to
readers my sense of being engaged in a long, continuous process.”
Rich's next three books - Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969),
and The Will to Change (1971) - reflect the social upheaval of the late 1960s
and early 1970s. Like other poets of her generation, such as Denise
Levertov, Robert Bly and W. S. Merwin, she wrote poems protesting the
Vietnam War, particularly in Leaflets. Images of death pervade Necessities
of Life as the poet struggled to create a life no longer shaped by the
predetermined rituals and social roles. Emily Dickinson became a recurring
figure in her poems, foreshadowing her influential essay, “Vesuvius at
Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson” (1975). Rich's poems also became
increasingly experimental, employing longer, contrapuntal lines. She
adapted the ghazal, a Persian form traditionally used for expressions of love,
to convey social and political comment. At the same time, Rich began to
distrust her medium because of its close ties to patriarchical culture. “This is
the oppressor's language // yet I need it to talk to you,” she writes in “The
Burning of Paper Instead of Children,” a five-poem sequence with prose
segments in The Will to Change.
Informed more distinctly by a feminist analysis of history and culture,
“Diving into the Wreck” (1973) marks another turning point in Rich's career.
In it she expresses her anger regarding women's position in Western culture
more directly and alludes to problematic dualities or images of Otherness.
Language, too, remains on trial for its duplicitous nature. The book's title
poem, one of the 20th century's most significant poems, uses an
androgynous diver to examine a culture wrecked by its limited view of
history and myth. As with Leaflets and The Will to Change, this book's tone
ranges from critical to accusatory. When Diving into the Wreck was
awarded the National Book Award in 1974, Rich rejected the prize as an
individual but accepted it, with a statement co-authored by Audre Lorde and
Alice Walker, on behalf of all unknown women writers.
Rich’s poetry from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s has been
considered her most radical, in part because in them she rejects her earlier
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use of androgyny and seems to make a case for feminist separatism. “There
are words I cannot choose again: / humanism androgyny,” she writes in
“Natural Resources,” in which a female miner replaces the androgynous
diver of “Diving into the Wreck”. Rich defines and addresses her villain
more clearly: a patriarchical culture that inherently devalues anything female
or feminine. The impulse behind the search, however, remains the same:
finding a way to “reconstitute the world” (The Dream of a Common
Language, 1978). Rich advocates a woman-centre ed vision of creative
energies that she aligns with lesbianism in her essays “'It Is the Lesbian in
Us'“ (On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, 1979) and “Compulsory Heterosexuality
and Lesbian Experience” (Blood, Bread, and Poetry, 1986). She also
criticizes the impact of patriarchical culture on motherhood in Of Woman
Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976). Other essays as
well as poems like in The Dream of a Common Language, and A Wild
Patience Has Taken Me, and This Far (1981) offer important new readings
of female literary and historical figures. Rich's lesbian love sequence,
“Twenty-One Love Poems,” also dates from this time and is as striking for
its sensuousness as it is for its philosophical probing.
The poems and essays from this period contributed greatly to
contemporary understanding of the social construction of gender; they also
generated controversy. Critics objected to the didacticism in her poetry and
considered her feminist/lesbian vision too narrow. Rich's strategies are more
usefully seen as a counterpoint to the pervasiveness of patriarchical culture,
which harms men as well as women. While Rich may claim, for example,
that women together create “a whole new poetry” in poems such as
“Transcendental Etude,” her ultimate vision is broader. The “lost brother”
Rich describes in “Natural Resources” “was never the rapist,” but rather “a
fellow creature / with natural resources equal to our own” (The Dream of a
Common Language).
Rich sees undercurrents of violence in the materialism of the 1980s and
1990s that neither poets nor individuals can afford to ignore. These themes,
as well as the role of poetry in political and social life, are also explored in
her book of essays what is found there: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics
(1993).
In her latest book of poems, Midnight Salvage (1999), Rich continues
this discussion from the perspective of an aging activist poet looking back
on her life. She alludes to several of her previous poems and books, and
poses several questions: Has anything useful been salvaged from the wreck
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of culture Rich has been exploring for more than 30 years? Have art and
language served society and the poet well? Does material comfort blind
Americans to the lessons of the past? Her questions are not casually
answered, and the book's tone borders on despair. “I wanted to go
somewhere / the brain bad not yet gone,” she writes in “Letters to a Young
Poet,” “I wanted not to be / there so alone.” The “wild patience” that helped
Rich to survive into the late 1970s and early 1980s has become the “horrible
patience” the poet needs to find language she can use effectively. Images of
windows appear throughout the book as if the poet, enclosed and cut off
from the world, were struggling to see it clearly. In the book's closing
sequence, “A Long Conversation,” Rich wonders if it is the “charred,
crumpled, ever-changing human language” that “always and presses against
the pane,” blocking her view.

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MOST EXPECTED QUESTIONS
Q: DISCUSS ADRIENNE RICH AS A POETESS?
Q: WHAT ARE THE MAIN THEMES IN RICH’S POETRY?
Q: RICH CLAIMS ABOUT HERSELF TO BE A FEMINST, IS SHE
RIGHTLY KNOWN?
Q: RICH IS A VOICE OF OPPRESSED WOMEN, DO YOU AGREE?
Ans:
Adrienne Rich’s poetry weaves a cultural and emotional tapestry that is
bold, sometimes uneven, but always innovative and profoundly original and
powerful. Certain strands persist throughout---a commitment to lucidity,
authentic communication, community and social change; other threads---
revolutionary anger, political activism are also main concerns of Adrienne
Rich. In Rich’s poetry reader is all the time with a woman who is sensitive,
romantic, easy to be influenced on the one hand but on the other hand this
woman is bold enough to criticize and discard the male defined culture and
civilization.
She is a poetess who feels with woman and becomes the voice of most
deprived segment of the society. Her “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is
externalisation of a woman who is under the male dominant social set up.
Her “Final Notations” presents the confidence of woman in her ability and
love. “Gabriel” is an expression of religionist mind, and strong faith in God
is hallmark of this poem. Here Rich has shifted from particular to general
and trends of twentieth century which are full of social injustices and
modern commercialism are a source of tragic feelings of angel and of
poetess. “Diving into The Wreck” is an epic of modern times and it offers
woman new horizons in the sky of relations. So in the collection of poems
described in the syllabus in particular and in her poetry in general Adrienne
Rich is a great champion of woman rights.
Adrienne Rich’s poetry provides a chronicle of the evolving
consciousness of the modern woman. Composed in a period of rapid and
dramatic social change, her work explores the experience of women who
reject patriarchal definitions of femininity by separating themselves from the
political and social reality that trivializes and subordinates females. She
herself defines a patriarchal society is one in:

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“Which males are dominant and determine what part females shall
and shall not play, and in which capabilities assigned to women are
relegated generally to the mystic and aesthetic and excluded from the
practical and political realms “.
As a feminist poet Rich insists on the importance of the “imaginative
identification with all women” and commits herself to the recreation of a
female community that is dedicated to a nurturing ethos and a reverence of
life.
At the award ceremony of her famous book “Diving Into the Wreck”
she dedicated the occasion to the community of women that transcends race
and class;
“The poet, the housewife, the lesbian, the mathematician, the mother,
the dishwasher, the pregnant teenager, the teacher, the grandmother,
the prostitute, the philosopher, the waitress… “
This community of women, Rich hopes, will not only resist the
damaging and crippling effects of patriarchy but will also create a culture in
which women have equal economic, social, and political rights with men.
Rich has given a new idea of woman state, which is never ever a utopian
ideal. She does not only dreams for it rather she is also one of the exponents
of her idea. In her poetry she has not totally discarded male members of the
society but her attraction towards them is marred by their own attitude which
is callous and clinical. In “The Final Notations” apparently beloved is bold
enough that she can live even without her lover but underlying tone of
poignant feelings shows herself a pretty hopeful woman from her love.
Rich in her poetry has given a great deal of individualism to the woman
of modern age. Her main concern is that woman of modern age must be
considered as the effective, dynamic and functional part of the society. Aunt
in “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is a great artist. Her art of weaving is matchless.
Aunt is representing the whole community of women. She is repressed
physically under the weight of “Uncle’s Wedding’s Band” but she is free in
her mind and soul that is why she is fearful but her creation ‘tigers’ are not
afraid of men. This freedom of mind and soul, which is one of the basic
rights of every individual are denied to woman under the male defined
culture. Rich is a crusader against pre-set standards of male and female
relations and dives deep into the wreck of relations and brings on the surface
a new yet free relationship between female and female “I am he, I am she” is
the ultimate message of Rich’s struggle.

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Rich’s vision of a perfect peaceful society for woman is very attractive
and ideal one. Her heroine is always a perfection of feelings incarnate but a
mature and confident lady. Her heroine celebrates the ancient mysteries of
blood and birth, but no longer will she be defined solely by her reproductive
functions; her understanding and experience of life will give her a vision as
effective and as commanding as history has known;
“As a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
It will take all your flesh, it will not be simple”.
Future superwoman will be in command of her body, her erotic and
creative energies, and she will celebrate life, not death. No longer will she be
an ornamental servant but autonomous, self-directing, and free from the
patriarchal edict that anatomy is destiny. This new woman will not spring
from the head of Zeus or from Adam’s rib; she must pass through the
dangers of this life: she must survive and transcend a culture that can wound
and kill her. Her strength and commanding power will depend on her
capacity successfully to pass through or turn away from patriarchal
domination.
Q: “DIVING INTO THE WRECK” IS AN EPIC OF MODERN
TIMES IN WHICH RICH HAS EXPLORED NEW MEANINGS
OF RELATIONSHIPS, DISCUSS?
Q: “DIVING INTO THE WRECK” IS REAL REPRESENTATION
OF RICH’S GENIUS?
Ans:
In this poem of journey and transformation Rich is tapping the energies
and plots of myth, while re-envisioning the content. While there is a hero, a
quest, and a buried treasure, the hero is a woman; the quest is a critique of
old myths; the treasure is knowledge: the whole buried knowledge of the
personal and cultural foundering of the relations between the sexes, and a
self-knowledge that can be won only through the act of criticism.
The wreck represents the battered hulk of the sexual definitions of the
past, which Rich, as an underwater explorer, must search for evidence of
what can be salvaged. Only those who have managed to survive the wreck--
women isolated from any meaningful participation or voice in forces that led
to the disaster--are in a position to write its epitaph and their own names in
new books.
The experience of nothingness and the courage to see are at the heart of
the poem Diving into The Wreck. The poem is a parallel between two
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different kinds of diving. Symbolism is the core of the poem. Apparently
poet is a diver who is to dive in the wreck to search out the damage and
treasures. The sea is the metaphor of the world. Wreck is the wreck of
civilization where individual recognition of the woman is sacrificed and
drowned for the sake of male dominance. Rich has dived deep to extract the
real meanings and status of man woman relationship.
Rich is not an expert diver but her confidence i.e. the flippers will help
her to explore the wreck. Before starting her diving she is fully equipped
with tools like a traditional divers but here diving is not traditional. She has
read the book of myths (traditional definitions of man woman relations), a
camera (her memory and vision), and a sharp knife (her new ideas and her
own belief in her new definition of sexual relationship). It is a deep and
dangerous journey where anything is possible. Diver descends in the water
and its colour changes from blue to green and from green to black. This
changing of colour is also symbolic. There is the effect of ‘blacking out’, it
is the vision of poetess , in the deep down she is free from all kind of
traditional taboos and definitions, in this free atmosphere she can decide
now according to her own perception.
As she descends deep down to the sea she is confused. She loses her
identity or she confidently behaves like an androgyny as she approaches the
wreck;
“The mermaid whose dark hair streams black,
the merman in his armour body …
I m she, I m he…”
Speaking, feeling, and seeing for both sexes, the poet wants to witness.
“The wreck and not the story of the wreck
The thing itself and not the myth”.
This quest for something beyond myths, for the truths about men and
women about the “I” and the “you” the “he” and the “she” are more
generally about the powerless and the powerful. In admitting “I am he, I am
she”, Rich is feeling both the virtues; of man and woman, powerful and
powerless, she is adopting both of the role in the sexual relationships
between woman and a woman. Yet she cannot confidently admit this dual
role so she is still in the deep to search out the reality.
It is, rather, the all-compassing ‘deep element’ in which she must learn.
“To turn my body without force”.
She has come.
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“To explore the wreck. The damage that has done and the treasures
that prevails”.
The wreck is a layered image; it is the life of one woman, the source of
successes and failures; it is the history of all women submerged in a
particular culture, it is that source of myths about male and female sexuality,
which shape our lives and roles today. Whichever, the swimmer came for:
“The wreck and not story of the wreck
The thing itself and not the myth”.
She explores the wreck and records for us her experiences of the cargo,
“The half-destroyed instrument… the water-eaten log the fouled
compass”.
But no questions are answered here for those who have not found their
own way to this place; we are given no explanation for why the wreck
occurred. Nor is there any account of the swimmer’s return, the use to which
she puts this new information. It is as if Rich still found herself in the
dilemma at the end of “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law” when it seemed
impossible to record an image of the “new woman”. Indeed, she said in 1974
two years after “Diving into the Wreck”.
I absolutely cannot imagine what it would like to be a woman in a non-
patriarchal society. At moments I have this little glimmer of it. When I’m in
a group of women, where I have a sense of real energy flowing and of power
in the best sense – not power of domination, but just access to source – I
have some sense of what that could be like. But it’s very rare that I can
imagine even that.
Moving in deeply private images, circling darkly and richly into the
very sources of her poetry, she is, as she says,
“Coming home to…. sex, sexuality, sexual wounds, sexual identity,
and sexual politics”.
Dreaming of the person within the poem, she walking toward me,
naked, swaying bending down, her dark long fair falling forward of its own
weight like heavy cloth shielding my-face and her own, her full breasts
brushing my cheek, moving toward my mouth. The dream is the invention of
the dreamer, and the content of the dream moves in symbols of sustenance
and of comfort. The hands of that diving woman become our own hands,
reaching out, touching, holding; not in sex but in deliverance. That is the
potency of her poetry; it infuses dreams, it makes possible connections
between people in the face of what seems of be irrevocable separateness, it
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forges an alliance between the poet and the reader. The power of her
woman’s voice crying out, I am, surviving, sustaining, continuing, and
making whole.
The enthusiasm for her efforts to create a myth of androgynous
sexuality is a typical case. To applaud the androgynous psyche or to
announce this as its historical moment is easier than actually living out its
consequences.
“I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair Streams back, the merman
in his armoured body”.
I am she, I am he, We all have more varied sexual impulses than we can
act on, but will Rich’s romanticized androgynous figure,
“Whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes”,
Help bring them any closer to realization? While that is not a criterion
one would ordinarily apply to all poetry, it is relevant in Rich’s case. Unlike
Roethke, he cannot take pleasure in the powerlessness of poetic solutions to
social and historical conflicts. Her poetry continually testifies to her need to
work out possible modes of human existence verbally, to achieve
imaginatively what cannot yet be achieved in actual relationships. Moreover,
she hopes that poetry can transform human interaction. Yet perhaps that is
not, after all the point, at least in poems like “Diving into the Wreck” despite
its call for “the thing itself and not the myth”. For what we have here is the
myth, as Rich herself has now implicitly acknowledged.
“There are words I cannot choose again; humanism androgyny”.
“Such words”, she goes on to say, “have no shame in them”. They do
not embody the history of anguish, repression and self-control that precedes
them. “Their glint is too shallow”, they do not describe either the past or the
life of the present. As Rich has recently written of bisexuality,
“Such a notion blurs and sentimentalises the actualities within which
women have experienced sexuality; it is the old liberal leaf across the
tasks a struggle of here and now”. Indeed.”
“Diving into the Wreck” demonstrates that one can suppress difficult
feelings by mythologizing them. It may be that both Rich and her readers are
relieved to have their fear and their desire conjoined in symbols so stylised
and abstract.
According to a well-known critic Rachel:

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“In this poem of journey and transformation Rich is tapping the
energies and plots of myth while re-envisioning the content. While
there is a hero, a quest and a buried treasure is knowledge; the whole
buried knowledge of the personal and cultural foundering of the
relations between the sexes, and a self-knowledge that can be won
only through the act of criticism.”

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Q: “AUNT JENNIFER'S TIGERS” IS REPRESENTATIVE POEM
OF RICH’S FEMINISM, ELABORATE?
Ans:
The fearful, gloomy woman waiting inside her darkening room for the
emotional and meteorological devastation to hit, could be Aunt Jennifer,
who is similarly passive and terrified, overwhelmed by events that eclipsed
her small strength. “Aunt Jennifer's Tigers” is, however, an even clearer
statement of conflict in women, specifically between the impulse to freedom
and imagination (her tapestry of prancing tigers) and the “massive weight”
of gender roles and expectations, signified by “Uncle's wedding band.”
Although separated through the use of the third person and a different
generation, neither Aunt Jennifer in her ignorance nor Rich as a poet
recognizes the fundamental implications of the division between imagination
and duty, power and passivity.
The tigers display in art the values that Aunt Jennifer must repress or
displace in life: strength, assertion, fearlessness, and fluidity of motion. And
the poem's conclusion celebrates the animal images as a kind of triumph,
transcending the limited conditions of their maker's life. Accepting the
doctrine of “ars longa, vita brevis,” Rich finds in her character's art both
persistence and compensation; she sees the creations as immortalizing the
hand that made them, despite the contrary force of the oppressive structure
of Aunt Jennifer's conventional marriage, as signified by the ring that binds
her to her husband. This doctrine is utterly consonant with what was,
according to Rich, “a recurrent theme in much poetry I read [in those days] .
. . the indestructibility of poetry, the poem as vehicle for personal
immortality”. And this more or less explicit connection helps show how
deeply implicated Rich herself was in Aunt Jennifer’s situation and her
achievement, despite the “asbestos gloves” of a distancing formalism that
“allowed me to handle materials I couldn’t pick up barehanded”.
The problem, however, is that the tigers are clearly masculine figures--
and not only masculine, but heroic figures of one of the most role-bound of
all the substructures of patriarchy: chivalry. Their “chivalric certainty” is a
representation by Aunt Jennifer of her own envisioned power, but it is
essentially a suturing image, at once stitching up and reasserting the rift
between her actual social status and her vision. Aunt’s name, after all,
echoes with the sound of Queen Guinevere's; her place in chivalry is clear.

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Her tigers are only Lancelots, attractive because illicit, but finally seducing
her to another submission to the male. So long as power can be envisioned
only in terms that are culturally determined as masculine, the revolutionary
content of the vision, which was all confined to a highly mediated and
symbolic plane in any case, will remain insufficient, Indeed, the fact that the
patriarchs here imagine assertion against the patriarchy only in terms set
may be seen as this poem’s version of the tigers’ “fearful symmetry.” And
the “Immortal hand or eye” that framed their symmetry is not Aunt
Jennifer's framing her needlework, but patriarchy’s, framing Aunt Jennifer.
Reading of the poem, however, is that the poem resists those
oppositions upon which Pope’s and Byars’ criticisms depend. I would argue
that “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” does not stage a contest between the individual
and the social, but rather characterizes them by their interdependence. (The
personal in this poem is deeply implicated in the political, and vice versa.) In
the central symbols of the poem--the tapestry tigers and the Uncle’s wedding
band--the individual and social, the personal and the political meet. The
tapestry tigers are not just individual artistic expressions; they are politically
inflected, engaged in patriarchal chivalry myths (as Byars argues), and--as
icons of colonialism (I would add)--suggestive of capitalist regimes of
power (notice too they are sewn with an “ivory needle”). The personal and
the political again meet in the intimacy of “Uncle's wedding band”. By the
physical intimacy of a wedding band and by the familial presence conferred
by “Uncle’s wedding band” (emphasis added), “Aunt Jennifer's Tigers”
personalizes the presence of patriarchal politics.
The poem's structure also draws the personal into the political and the
political into the personal. The parallel syntactical structures of verses one
and two suggest the relatedness of their content. Both follow the
construction “Aunt Jennifer’s,” with verse two substituting “tigers prance
across the screen” with the similar sounding “fingers fluttering though her
wool”. The use of colour in the second lines of each verse--”topaz” and
“green” and “ivory” -and the presence of men in the third lines-”the men
beneath the tree” and “Uncle’s wedding band” persist in the stanzas’
parallelisms. These parallelisms draw associations between the images
described. Owing to such parallelisms, the straining “fingers” of the second
verse resonate with the energetic “tigers” of first verse. Reading the second
stanza back to the first, the weight that “sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s
hand” of its final line lends sobriety to the “chivalric certainty” of the final
line of the first stanza. Though verse one nominally describes artistic
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freedom, and verse two nominally describes patriarchal power, the structural
affinities between the two verses resist the strict binarizing of rebellion and
repression. The final verse of the poem persists in this destabilization as here
rebellion and repression meet in the simultaneity of the fearless tigers and
the lifeless aunt:
“When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie still ringed with
ordeals she was mastered by. The tigers in the panel that she made
will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.”
To condemn “Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger’s” then, as Byars does, for its
rebellion’s indebtedness to patriarchal culture is, I would argue, to miss the
point. What makes the poem interesting, I think, is the very interplay between
rebellion and repression, between the individual and the social, between the
personal and the political. To demand a resolution wherein individual
expression wholly escapes the social/political, magically rising above
patriarchal discourse, seems to me a least a little naive and largely dismissive
of the poem's more sophisticated conceptualisation of power.
Q: DISCUSS ADDRIENE RICH’S POETIC STYLE?
Ans:
Rich is best known as a key figure in feminist poetry. Her dream of a
better language and a better world, however, aligns her with the visionary
poetess of Shelley and Whitman, and with American transcendentalists such
as Emerson.
The documentary nature of her work - her poetry of witness and protest
- is in keeping with the work of poets such as Carl Sandburg, Robert
Hayden, Muriel Rukeyser, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carolyn Forché, and the
lesser-known 19th-century worsen poets in England and the United States
who wrote about social and domestic injustice.
Rich’s exploration of the points where private lives and public acts
intersect, as well as the confessional mode her poems sometimes employ
suggests the work of Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plash, and Anne Sexton. Her
frank discussion and celebration of lesbian sexuality have contributed to a
more open discussion of homosexuality today, not only within the walls of
the academy but in the culture at large: it is difficult to imagine the work of
Marilyn Hacker or Minnie Bruce Pratt without Rich as a precursor.
Finally, her insistence in the 1980s that feminism move beyond the
white middle class and be more sensitive to the needs of women of colour
and of varying economic classes aligns her with a number of poets: Audre
15 By
Qaisar Iqbal Janjua From Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678
qaisarjanjua@hotmail.com, qaisarjanjua@gmail.com, qaisarjanjoa@yahoo.com
Lord, June Jordan, Joy Harjo, Judy Grahn, and Irish poet Evan Boland. This
is a short list of links and influences, suggesting the complex and generative
quality a poetics of transformation can possess. Her uses of anger, domestic
imagery, and the poetic sequence or long poem suggest other possibilities.

16 By
Qaisar Iqbal Janjua From Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678
qaisarjanjua@hotmail.com, qaisarjanjua@gmail.com, qaisarjanjoa@yahoo.com