For months, Adrienne Rich's The Fact of a Doorframe has been sitting on my shelf, waiting until it was time to study Rich in my Modern Poetry class. I skimmed the book once or twice and decide Rich is not for me. Well, the time has come to study Adrienne Rich, and I have to say I was sorely mistaken that Rich is not for me. Her work is something impressive! I love her charged her imagery is, how passionate her passages can be, and how bold the body of work is.
This is the young Adrienne Rich.
You most often see images of her in her later years, but I think
I can relate with this younger woman better.
Image found at http://poetry4u.net
The fact of a Doorframe is a good introduction to Rich, as it presents poetry spanning half a century from a dozen different books. It is interesting to see her work progress as the reader moves chronologically through the segments of each book.
I have not read enough to give a comprehensive recommendation, but tonight, I'd like to offer just one, "Song." I had to read through that final stanza a few times, trying to wrap my mind around the imagery presented. Please, I beg of you, try reading this poem out loud.
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
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.