Themes in the Poetry of Adrienne Rich

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Themes of Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich's poetry changed for many reasons after 1955. It's difficult to pick just one, but it can be combined into one phrase; "her environment." Life started to change for Rich and women in general around that time. Her poetry serves as a corner stone for these changes.

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers, and Living in Sin are the two poems the anthology lists as being written before or during 1955. Aunt Jennifer doesn't appear to be written about herself, but Sin does. The first poem seems to be a comparison between ideas of strength and weakness, while Living in Sin appears to be her feeling resentment for her life "by evening she was back in love again"(Rich 23). Obviously she is involved in a weak marriage and unhappy with her situation. The date of this poem is 1955, which may serve as reasoning for the content. Based on previously knowledge, Rich did have a failing marriage and left her husband, later to become a lesbian.

As the poems go through the years, readers see images of Rich beginning her new life in works like Necessities of Life "Piece by piece I seem/to re-enter the world" (Rich 2). Through new eyes she discovers herself and the world around her as she takes part in the feminist movements of the sixties, as described in the foreword. In poetry like Diving into the Wreck, readers can easily see her assessing her new life situation. She questions her "book of myths" (Rich 1) and wonders why her name isn't among the great writers that are so commonly men. As she digs deeper into the wreck, she is soul searching for herself. She notes that this is something she has to do alone "not like Cousteau with his / assiduous team / abroad the sun-flooded schooner / but here alone" (Rich 9-12). In the end, Rich feels she has climbed out of the wreck empty handed, and that there is no place for her in literature. She feels her name will never be in the infamous "book of myths" even though she took an androgynous tone...
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