Adrienne Rich

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Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 16, 1929. She attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1951, and was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize for A Change of World (Yale University Press, 1951) that same year. It was in 1973, in the midst of the feminist and civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, and her own personal distress, that Rich wrote Diving into the Wreck (W. W. Norton), a collection of exploratory and often angry poems, which garnered her the National Book Award in 1974. Rich accepted the award on behalf of all women and shared it with her fellow nominees, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde. Rich went on to publish numerous poetry collections, including The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 (W. W. Norton, 2004), which won the Book Critics Circle Award; An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991 (W. W. Norton, 1991), a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Dream of a Common Language (W. W. Norton, 1978). In addition to her poetry, Rich wrote several books of nonfiction prose, including Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (W. W. Norton, 2001) and What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (W. W. Norton, 1993). Source

Song

You’re wondering if I’m lonely:

OK then, yes, I’m lonely

as a plane rides lonely and level

on its radio beam, aiming

across the Rockies

for the blue-strung aisles

of an airfield on the ocean

 

You want to ask, am I lonely?

Well, of course, lonely

as a woman driving across country

day after day, leaving behind

mile after mile

little towns she might have stopped

and lived and died in, lonely

 

If I’m lonely

it must be the loneliness

of waking first, of breathing

dawns’ first cold breath on the city

of being the one awake

in a house wrapped in sleep

 

If I’m lonely

it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore

in the last red light of the year

that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither

ice nor mud nor winter light

but wood, with a gift for burning

Published:

1972

Length:

Regular

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

Themes:

Doubt & Fear

Mental Health

Literary Devices:

Alliteration

the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession

Metaphor

a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic

Personification

the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Polysyndeton

the repetition of conjunctions frequently and in close proximity in a sentence

Repetition

a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times

Simile

a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”