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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

I married is a poem written by Lorine Niedacker, a poet who lived a secluded life on a Wisconsin island. Niedacker is commonly associated with the objectivist poets, a group of American poets in the 1930s and 1940s who emphasized the use of clear, concise language in order to portray the poem as an object. Objectivist poets chose common wording and language rather than flowery, figurative imagery; and emphasized a sincere, individual vision of the world. The writing in I married clearly reflects this objectivist mindset; the poem is sparse, with pregnant dashes at times carrying more weight than the words themselves.

The poem's central theme is marriage, and it is believed the poem was written in response to Niedacker's marriage to Albert Millen when she was in her sixties. There is speculation that there were tensions in the marriage that influenced both this poem and others written by Niedacker during the same period. The structure of the poem itself is interesting; its sparse language moves from scene to scene, leaving the reader with a feeling of motion and reflection. There is an "American gothic" sense to the language; a disturbing darkness underneath the visage of marriage.

The poem first portrays marriage as an almost-comforting shelter; the speaker has chosen to enter into it not out of desperation but out of wanting relief and well-being. It is almost unapologetic, the speaker unabashedly states the "practical" reason for the marriage.

I married

in the world’s black night
for warmth
if not repose.
At the close—
These lines are interesting, while Niebacker is not portraying marriage as something sinister, her language implies something less than passion: marriage for a sense of safety in having someone, rather than for overwhelming love for an individual person. The next lines are darker; with coffin-like imagery highlighting the claustrophobia and ghost-like state of the speaker's marriage.
I hid with him
from the long range guns.
We lay leg
in the cupboard, head
in closet.
The second half of the poem implies a disillusionment with marriage. The line "no bird dawn" also perfectly exemplifies the concise focus of objectivist poetry; it is a condensed but poignant set of words.
A slit of light
at no bird dawn—
I thought
he drank
too much.
Marriage is not the warmth and repose the author envisioned, it is something darker and more desolate. The reference to drinking brings the poem back from abstract to the everyday; it feels very much like the venting of a problem. The author is disillusioned; the marriage is not what she wanted from it. The final lines close the speaker's reflection on marriage, while also leaving the interpretation open.
I say
I married
and lived unburied.
I thought—

The words "married" and "unburied" draw directly from gothic imagery; the speaker is trapped between the world of the ideal and reality of marriage much like something supernatural. The dash at the end of the poem begs for interpretation and questions, rather than closure. Is the speaker complacent with this version of marriage, or is it a disillusioned dream-state rather than something tangible?

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