April 4, 2013
A Unhappy Life
In Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Living in Sin” a woman is looking back on her relationship. The title tells me, although unconventional, in the 1950’s the couple was living together unmarried. The first line “She had thought the studio would keep itself,” describes how she expected her relationship to be. The woman clearly had an image, not a realistic one, of the perfect relationship. Many men and women fall into this trap (I certainly did with my own failed marriage). It is clear the woman is not happy and does not want to do the daily up keep of the home. She no longer loves the man and dreams of an escape from the life in which she is in. This poem is free verse with no rhythm or rhyme scheme. Its meter consists of most lines having ten syllables. The poem uses metaphors throughout to describe the relationship. The relationship was described through the words studio, furniture, and grime. The metaphors help in creating the tone for this poem which is one of sadness and despair. Adrienne Rich use of these metaphors and meter is another way to describe the relationship. In line two, “no dust upon the furniture of love”, truly sells the idea that she believed the relationship would not need any work to keep it happy. There is no dust to clean in the perfect fairy tale relationship. The poem enters the present with line three as the woman begins to describe problems with the noisy pipes and grime on the windows. Again the pipes and windows are metaphors for the condition of the relationship. The poem goes on to describe the inside of a home “A plate of pears, a piano with a Persian shawl” immediately leads into the image of a perfect home. No different than when anyone enters a home for the first time and the décor gives the impression of perfection. We have all been to people’s homes and the décor always gave an impression of the solidarity within the home. Of course no home is as perfect...