Adrienne Rich American Literature Analysis
In the ghazal (a verse form borrowed from Middle Eastern poetry) “7/14/68: ii,” published in Leaflets, Rich rhetorically asks: “Did you think I was talking about my life?/ I was trying to drive a tradition up against the wall.” This couplet summarizes her poetic career: Autobiography is used to examine universal issues in order to effect change. Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law was the first volume in which this important aspect of Rich’s work was apparent. Starting with this collection, Rich began to write more personal and experimental poetry in which meaning was not subordinate to form. Rich assumed a more personal voice, addressing more directly the issues she faces as a woman and allowing herself more formal innovations. Although Rich did not yet allow herself to speak directly (the daughter-in-law of the snapshots, an important autobiographical sequence, is referred to as “she,” not “I”), these were her first feminist poems, and she drew inspiration from the work of Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Rich’s mature work is intensely biographical, not merely for the sake of pure honesty and personal expression, but because by describing her own struggles, she wishes to stimulate what she calls “the will to change” and thereby bring about political transformation in others. The “will to change” is created by the rigorous examination of one’s own inner self as well as by “diving into the wreck”...
(The entire section is 4395 words.)
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