Can anyone interpret Adrienne Rich's poem "Amnesia" from feminist's viewpoint?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Rich's poem "Amnesia" expresses the feminist viepoint that history erased from collective memory the role and identiy of women throughout time. Rich asserts this was done by removing and/or not including documentation of women's contributions to culture, society, and history. Although, some women of extraordinary renown, like Madame Curie, are included in the documents of history. Rich expresses this ideology in her essay "Resisting Amnesia: History and Personal Life."

One of Rich's feminist theses is that historical amnesia has robbed women of the ability to "create things differently." As she writes in Ana Historic:

they took your imagination, your will to create things differently

The story elaborates upon this further when Rich writes that this omission of women's roles and contributions has overloaded collective feminine cognition so none can bear to remember the past:

under the role or robe was no one ... they erased whole parts of you, shocked them out, overloaded the circuits so you couldn't bear to remember

These ideas, (1) stolen imagination and creativity and (2) an intolerance for remembering are echoed in the end of "Amnesia":

still, why
must the snow-scene blot itself out
the flakes come down so fast
so heavy, so unrevealing
over the something that gets left behind?

One of Rich's central points is that feminists need to be looking for the resistance from women throughout history that maintained a continuity to the survival of women's imagination:

to be looking ... for the greatness and sanity of ordinary women, [who] collectively waged resistance ... better than individual heroines ... [for] continuity of women's imagination of survival, .... ("Resisting Amnesia")

This feminist idea of a collectively waged resistance is hinted at in "Amnesia" when the poetic speaker says:

every flake of snow
[...]
adding-
up, always adding-up to the
cold blur of the past   
But first there is the picture of the past
simple and pitiless ...

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