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I married Summary

In this bleak poem, the speaker talks about marrying for the goal of feeling safe. Her spouse is unnamed and his personality or attractive qualities seem unimportant. He is first mentioned at the end of the first stanza merely as "somebody."

The first stanza suggests that who the speaker married was far less important than why she married. She begins by explaining her rationale for marrying: she seeks "warmth," she says, against the "world's black night." She goes on to explain that her bar for marriage was low: warmth does not even include the expectation of "repose" or rest. The phrase "at the close" is ambiguous, as is much of the poem, but one meaning is at the close of life or at the end of her rope she married for warmth or safety solely so she would not be alone in a dark, frightening world.

In the second stanza, the speaker has married. She describes her marriage using imagery that turns her shared domestic space into a restrictive, coffin-like enclosure. She and her husband hide in their home from "long range guns," possibly a reference to rocket bombs or nuclear weapons. The comforting domestic images of "cupboard" and "closet" become claustrophobic as she writes

We lay leg
in the cupboard, head
in closet.
This home is not a space of freedom or growth, but of containment.
In the third stanza, the speaker describes just a "slit of light" entering her bleak "no bird home." No birds sing in this silent, barely lit space. Along with this little slit of light, the first detail about her husband is illuminated: the narrator thinks he drinks.
This concern about her husband's drinking continues into the fourth stanza, which begins with the words "too much." The narrator fears her husband drinks too much, which is hardly surprising, given their frightening lives. In this final stanza, the speaker states that she married and lived "unburied," then undercuts and casts doubt on that idea by adding the words "I thought—". The poem then breaks off in midstream with a dash, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions.
This claustrophobic marriage with a possible alcoholic brings the narrator no positive joy. She marries for safety but instead finds herself feeling as if she is buried alive. The entire bleak poem questions whether her marriage was worth the price for a little "warmth," leading to the conclusion that it was not.