Adrienne Rich

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

In Those Years



The text of this poem could not be published because of Copyright laws.

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

Adrienne Rich's Other Poems

  • Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • From an Atlas of the Difficult
  • A Valediction Forbidding Mourn
  • My Mouth Hovers Across Your Br
  • For the Dead
  • Living in Sin
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  • Rookie Suparna Banerjee (8/17/2008 12:41:00 PM)

    This poem by Rich invokes the loss of connection and cohesion experienced by the women's movement - and by women themselves - in the US of the 1980s, the neo-con 'backlash' times.

    It laments women's lack of involvement in the macro-politics of gender-relations and their oft-willed ignoring of the sexual-politics of their 'personal' lives. Rich deplores women's complacent ignoring of the patterns of inequity that replicate in the personal microcosm their practical and metaphysical subordination to men in the socia-political macrocosm of patriarchal states of all ages. This blithe indifference to the political in the personal amounts to culpable complicity on the part of women in their own oppression, Rich implies.

    By taking the achievements of the feminist movement for granted the eighties' woman forgets, and thereby, disrespects history: she forgets, that is, how our attitudes to the past reflects our present and shapes our future - she forgets she IS history. By calling her jaded attention afresh to the scream of the 'dark birds of history' that hover over the skies looking down on her little coutyard Rich makes her remember the old lesson once again: 'the personal is political'.

    Also, in its insistence on a movement back to a 'We' - together in suffering and resistance - from the limiting, claustrophobic 'I', struggling lone battles, the poem is a call to women's solidarity. One is reminded of the protagonist Offred's observation in Margaret Atwood's 1985 feminist dystopia, 'The Handmaid's Tale' - that there isn't a verb in English that is the feminine equivalent of 'fraternize'.

    Stylistically speaking, the compostion is a prose-poem - the poetic form that's the most used these days. The verses follow no strict metric scheme or 'meter', so that the measured ebb and flow of stressed and unstressed syllables are replaced by a freer rhythm closer to speech; accordingly, the line lengths are fixed not by the number of metrical 'feet' (there aren't any) but by the demands of the subtle rhythm.

    All in all, this is typical Addrienne Rich: cerebral yet suffused with the poignancy of the experiential, the imagery and the rhythm subtly evocative. (Report) Reply

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