Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Each of us will help the other live, and somewhere, each of us must help the other die" Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich was one of those special people who knew a lot about love, and she enriched the world by sharing her deft perceptions channeled into exquisite poetry. She knew the female experience in all its potential: young wife, mother of 3, then awaking in midlife to her erotic desire for women.

I discovered Rich in college, amid the operatic intensity of life that is the coed's lot. I formed a bond with her collection The Dream of a Common Language that has never been duplicated. I'm not alone in that connection. Here's Cheryl Strayed from her memoir Wild (via John Williams in NYT):

“I’d read ‘The Dream of a Common Language’ so often that I’d practically memorized it. In the previous few years, certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I’d chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and when I held it in my hands on my first night on the trail, I didn’t regret carrying it one iota — even though carrying it meant that I could no more than hunch beneath its weight.”

Here's one of my favorites, but so much of her work is brilliant, haunting, comforting, provocative, helpful.

No one's fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we're not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No prison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape - recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape - recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us
within us and against us, against us and within us

Love Poems, Dream of a Common Language
Adrienne Rich


Jean M Bsquared said...

I also discovered Rich in college and was enthralled with her anger, heartache, her connection to New York and San Francisco, and her sheer brilliance. We had one of her 21 love poems read at our wedding The one that begins: "Sleeping, turning in turn like planets
rotating in their midnight meadow:
a touch is enough to let us know
we’re not alone in the universe, even in sleep.."
I had no idea M.A. you liked her work, but it makes total sense to me that you would.

M.A.Peel said...

JB, yes, another connection.