Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Contradictions: Tracking Poems - Adrienne Rich

My selection comes from Rich's work from the mid-1980s, when her reputation was more than solidified as a leading poet and a strong feminist (and lesbian) voice.  Born in 1929, she led a conventional life (husband, three kids) until the 1960s, when she found an adult voice ignited by the socio-political changes of that period.  (Crap, this is sounding like a college paper...)  I first encountered Rich in 1974 through her volume - Diving Into The Wreck - that won the National Book Award  that year.  She isn't known for her love poetry: her passion is for the "bigger" themes of her struggles to liberate herself (and women of her generation) from the restraints of male-dominated society, but such energy as is diverted to "Love" produced poems with heat.  (There is a volume called  Twenty One Love Poems that's worth the effort to find and read.)  I like this one for its compactness in painting a specific place and time, particularly the line "stopping to laugh at a joke", which says so much about the people and the relationship.

My mouth hovers across your breasts
in the short grey winter afternoon
in this bed        we are delicate
and tough        so hot with joy we amaze ourselves
tough        and delicate        we play rings
around each other        our daytime candle burns
with its peculiar light        and if the snow
beings to fall outside        filling the branches
and if the night falls        without announcement
these are the pleasures of winter
sudden, wild and delicate        your fingers
exact        my tongue exact at the same moment
stopping to laugh at a joke
my love         hot on your scent        on the cusp of winter     
                                                                                                   Adrienne Rich - American

1 comment:

Colleen said...

I really like the daytime candle's "peculiar light" and the way the outside world is so removed (because the lovers are so wrapped up in their pleasure)...

"...IF the snow/begins to fall...and if the night falls without announcement/these are the pleasures of winter..."