The Poetry of Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich’s poetry traces the growth of a conscious woman in the second half of the twentieth century. Her first two books, A Change of World and The Diamond Cutters (1955), contain verses of finely crafted, imitative forms, strongly influenced by the modernist poets. Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law is a transitional work in which Rich begins to express a woman’s concerns. Her form loosens as well; she begins to experiment with free verse.
The collections Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969), and The Will to Change (1971) openly reject patriarchal culture and language. Experiments with form continue as she juxtaposes poetry and prose and uses multiple voices. With Diving into the Wreck Rich’s poetry becomes clearly identified with radical feminism and lesbian separatism. A theme of the title poem is the need for women to define themselves in their own terms and create an alternative female language. The Dream of a Common Language was published after Rich came out as a lesbian and includes the explicitly sexual “Twenty-one Love Poems.”
By the time of the publication of A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far (1981), the influence of Rich’s poetry extended beyond art and into politics. As a woman in a patriarchal society, Rich expresses a fundamental conflict between poetry and politics, which occupies her poetic voice. The collections Your Native Land,...
(The entire section is 404 words.)