Adrienne Rich1929-Present By Megan, Kathryn, and Eleanor
Biography • Born on May 16, 1929 in Baltimore Maryland to Dr. Arnold Rich (Pathology professor at Johns Hopkins) and Helen Rich (pianist and composer). • She was home schooled until the 4th grade. • Graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951. • In 1951, Rich published her first poetry collection, A Change of World. Her earlier influences were T.S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, and Robert Frost. • In 1953, she married Alfred Conrad (Harvard economist). Later, she gave birth to 3 sons. • First change in Rich’s poetry style was seen in Snapshots of a Daughter-in-law, where Rich expressed her political activism towards women’s political and social roles. • In1966, Rich moved to New York, where she protested the Vietnam War.
Biography continued... • In 1970, Rich broke off her marriage with Conrad. Later, he committed suicide. • In 1974, Rich refused the acceptance of the National Book Award for Diving into the Wreck, claiming to celebrate it in the name of all women. • In 1976, Rich came out to the world about her lesbian relationships in her book, Twenty-One Love Poems.
Biography • Rich has produced over 16 volumes of poetry and 4 of non-fiction prose. They have been translated in many different languages. • Rich has won many awards such as the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the Lambda Book Award. • Rich currently lives in California.
“The Knight” Who will unhorse this rider and free him from between the walls of iron, the emblems crushing his chest with their weight? Will they defeat him gently, or leave him hurled on the green, his rags and wounds still hidden under the great breastplate? 1957 A knight rides into the noon, and his helmet points to the sun, and a thousand splintered suns and the gaiety of his mail. The soles of his feet glitter and his palms flash in reply, and under his crackling banner he rides like a ship in sail. A knight rides into the noon, and only his eye is living, a lump of bitter jelly set in a metal mask, betraying rags and tatters that cling to the flesh beneath and wear his nerves to ribbons under the radiant casque.
“The Knight” Criticism • Theme- Honor and bravery are unmasked by motive • Appearance vs. Reality • Uses heroic imagery such as “soles of his feet glitter” and “his palms flash in reply” • Makes an allusion in the first stanza to the stereotypical image of a British knight • Structure shift in poem occurs between the first and second stanza • The first stanza epitomizes a perfect knight through appearance; the second stanza reveals the reality of a cowardly man. • The imagery changes from beauty and awe to distasteful imagery from the first to the second stanza.
“The Knight” Criticism • The first stanza in itself is melodramatic almost to the point of hyperbole. • The third stanza uses rhetorical questions in order to convey the urgency of this man to be stripped from his false appearances. Ex. “Who will unhorse this rider” and “will they defeat him gently” • The speaker in this poem wants to unhorse the knight in order to allow him to be himself and not let his false appearances drive him to his death.
“Song” If I’m lonely it must be the loneliness of waking first, of breathing dawn’s 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 1971 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
“Song” Criticism • Written one year after her divorce • Poem spurred by isolation and transition • Repetition of “lonely” demonstrates the feeling of isolation • Images of solitude and emptiness convey the speaker’s feeling that she’s the only one • Ex. needle in a haystack, plane on airfield, woman driving across country • Juxtaposed with a traditional woman • The contrast is indicated by the word “might” • The “little towns” are juxtaposed with the open areas • Juxtapositioning of being awake with being asleep • Ex. “breathing dawn’s first cold breath” and “with a house wrapped in sleep” • The last stanza conveys negative imagery of being metaphorically trapped • Ex. “rowboat ice-fast on the shore”, “the last red light”, and “ice nor mud” • The final image of wood • Wood is a “gift” for burning; but fire, both resourceful and admired, is destructive and feared.
“Power” Living in the earth-deposits of our history Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old cure for fever or melancholy a tonic for living on this earth in the winters of this climate. Today I was reading about Marie Curie: she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness her body bombarded for years by the element she had purified It seems she denied to the end the source of the cataracts on her eyes the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends til she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil She died a famous woman denying her wounds denying her wounds came from the same source as her power. -1974
“Power” • The poem is about sources and frustration of women’s power. • Uses irony in order to demonstrate women’s struggle to change society’s perception of a woman’s place in the world. • Ex. “her wounds came from the same source as her power” • It is ironic how the source of Marie Curie’s power is the same source that weakened her through illness. • Employs the juxtapositioning of male and female • The male represents selfishness. • The woman is representative of selflessness. • The word “tonic” represents medicines used by doctors, mostly men, to scam patients; medicines were not effective. • Makes an allusion to historical figure, Marie Curie. • Marie Curie was a crucial figure who struggled to prove to the world that women were capable of the same things as men. Marie was a woman who struggled for power and respect in the world through her use of science. • Uses the repetition of the word “denying” in order to demonstrate the constant denial women have about their own capability.
Annotated Bibliography Adrienne Rich’s Literary Works Nelson, Cary. “An Adrienne Rich Bibliography.” Online Internet. 5 May 2005. http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/rich/biblio.htm This is the live link to the list of Adrienne Rich’s Bibliography. Reference Resources Rich, Adrienne. “Song.” Diving into The Wreck. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1973. 20. This is where the poem “Song” can be found. Rich, Adrienne. “The Knight”. Snapshots of a Daughter-in-law. New York: Harper & Row, 1956. 16. This is where the poem “The Knight” can be found. “Rusted Legacy.” Poetry for Students. Vol. 15. This contains Adrienne Rich’s biography.
Credits Pictures http://www.fineartandgiftdepot.com/fantasy/ny8222_lg.jpg This is the picture of the knight on slide 5. http://www.denison.edu/publicaffairs/pressreleases/richbeck.html This picture can be found on slide 1. http://www.mi-pagina.cl/patricioluco/exposiciones/poetas/adrienne%20richUSA.jpg This picture can be found on slide 3. http://www.bestamericanpoetry.com/pages/volumes/?id=1996 This picture can be found on slide 12. The book featured is a book in which Adrienne was a guest editor. www.yale.edu/opa/v31.n19/story4.html This picture can be found on slide 11. www.ohiou.edu/theohioreview/Rich.HTML This picture can be found on slide 6. www.logan.pvt.k12.co.us/Graphics/borders.html This frame was used on slide 1.
Credits http://www.nortonpoets.com/richa.htm This picture was found on slide 11. http://www.baymoon.com/~poetrysantacruz/books/books.html This picture was found on slide 12. http://www.britannica.com/nobel/art/ocuriem001p1.jpg This picture was found on slide 10. http://www.tongass.com/images/Paintings/Blue%20Rowboat.jpg This picture was found on slide 8.