Adrienne Rich

(16 May 1929 – 27 March 2012 / Baltimore, Maryland)

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers



The text of this poem could not be published because of Copyright laws.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Adrienne Rich's Other Poems

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  • A Valediction Forbidding Mourn
  • For the Dead
  • Burning Oneself Out
  • My Mouth Hovers Across Your Br
  • Living in Sin
  • From an Atlas of the Difficult

Read poems about / on: wedding, tree, green, fear, world, tiger

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  • Alisha Walker (3/27/2012 1:28:00 PM)

    With all the rhetoric surrounding women’s rights these days, I’ve been thinking about this poem a lot. My sister was in college when I was asked, in 5th grade, to analyze a poem for the first time. To me, Aunt Jennifer has always been the woman who couldn’t escape the husband she was afraid of, even in death. She made the tiger panels to remind her niece of her plight, and encourage her to avoid a similar fate. In other words, I think the message of the poem is a combination of “be careful who you marry” and “learn from the mistakes of previous generations of women”.

    Hear me roar! (Report) Reply

  • Benjamin Linus (4/11/2010 9:58:00 PM)

    Aunt Jennifer's life is clearly an unfavourable one: the ring sits heavily upon her hand, suggesting that her marriage isn't happy. In the last stanza, the poem says that 'When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie / Still ringed with ordeals that she was mastered by' (lines 9 and 10) . I also think that the word 'lie' is suggestive of more than one interpretation. The hands will lay on her chest, clasped together, and they will appear fine. But, in this respect, they are also lying to pretend that everything is alright. The fact that her hands are ringed with these ordeals-not plagued or suffered, but 'ring'ed-also suggests that her marriage is an unhappy one. She's living in an androcentric world; men are the center of attention and the important decision makers.

    As for the tigers that she knits into her panel, I believe they represent power, might, and freedom. From her feminine perspective-a perspective that is undoubtedly kept within her soul because of her oppression-they represent a future that she wishes for; one that is filled with 'sleek chivalric certainty' (line 4) and one where she can 'pranc[e], proud and unafraid' (line 12) . To answer your question, no, they are not live tigers. (Report) Reply

  • Jennifer Lopez (3/25/2010 12:07:00 PM)

    I remember reading this poem in school and how everyone just assumed the weight of her husband's ring was because of something negative regarding her husband. It occured to me since Ms Rich comes from a Jewish heritage, perhaps Aunt Jennifer may be Jewish. I recalled a movie i saw once about Nazi Germany and how this young man's job was to deliver a wooden box. Everytime he did as he left he heard the screams of the women come out their house. He got curious and opened a box and inside was ash and a wedding ring. I thought perhaps the weight of her husband's ring could be due to grief (Report) Reply

  • Natasha Storey (8/31/2008 11:35:00 AM)

    Im just wondering someone's opinion on this poem, what points would you make about the negativity or any positive points throughout it? thanks (Report) Reply

  • Greenwolfe 1962 (1/11/2008 12:55:00 PM)

    This is a genuine poem by Adrienne Rich and is the kind of thing that might
    appear in a high school or college textbook. According to the comments
    of others, it already is a part of someone's curriculum. This makes no
    commentary as to it's poetic value but is a definite plus in achieving
    immortality. Since I have not yet read all her works I cannot say where
    she ranks among the poets of today or any day. What I can and will say,
    is that she is a poet. That may not mean much to others, but it does
    to me.

    Greenwolfe 1962 (Report) Reply

  • Katie Peacock (11/9/2006 2:20:00 PM)

    I always thought that she has embroidered the tigers, hence the reference to the wool and the needle. As for her ordeals, wedding, etc., Adrienne Rich is a feminist writer who has written some pretty major works. I think that it would be more than safe to say that this is a commentary about 'Aunt Jennifer's' experiences in relation to feminism. (Report) Reply

  • Jj Samara (3/25/2005 10:24:00 AM)

    Are aunt Jenn's tigers real or not? At first they sounded real, but after reading the poem a couple pf times they don't sound like they are ALIVE tigers, maybe they mean something else? (Her jewels?) .
    Somebody please tell me what you think? I had a literature test today and a part of the test included this poem and there was a question asking if her 'Tigers' were real or not....
    And if it has something to do with her unhappy marriage or ordeals or whatever.
    Thanks! ! (Report) Reply

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