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Poetry meme

This has been a torment for me; I've so enjoyed everyone else's, but I can't pick one thing, and even clipping one part of one thing in a reasonable fashion fills me with the certainty that I'm a vandal. So I picked three that had a profound effect on me.

Night-life. Letters, journals, bourbon
sloshed in the glass. Poems crucified on the wall,
dissected, their bird-wings severed
like trophies. No one lives in this room
without living through some kind of crisis.

No one lives in this room
without confronting the whiteness of the wall
behind the poems, planks of books,
photographs of dead heroines.
Without contemplating last and late
the true nature of poetry. The drive
to connect. The dream of a common language.

from "Origins and History of Consciousness", Adrienne Rich

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
till she could no longer hold    a test-tube or a pencil

She died    a famous woman    denying
her wounds
her wounds    came    from the same source as her power

-- from "Power" by Adrienne Rich

I approach this love
like a biologist
pulling on my rubber
gloves & white labcoat

You flee from it
like an escaped political
prisoner, and no wonder.


You held out your hand
I took your fingerprints

You asked for love
I gave you only descriptions

Please die I said
so I can write about it

-- from "Their Attitudes Differ" by Margaret Atwood.


Oct. 19th, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. I, personnally, have always liked Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid's Tale in school.

Now, I need to go and look up Addrienne Rich. He stuff is so powerful, too.
Oct. 19th, 2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
Now, I need to go and look up Addrienne Rich. Her stuff is so powerful, too.

I started with the collection Dream of a Common Language; I think that's included in Fact of a Doorframe which is a larger book. I found that, and the Atwood Power Politics collection to be liberating in ways that would take me many thousands of words, much biographical, and therefore likely boring, to explain.

But with Rich, I find that as my age approached the age at which she wrote different poems, my sense of those poems changes. The first time I read A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far (and I may be misremembering the title, because it's out of the house), it wasn't nearly as strong -- but ten years later, it was a different book.