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Adrienne Rich - Writers - Literature - Read! / Listen!

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Adrienne Rich (USA. 1929-2012)

Adrienne Rich

Listen! Listen to Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts external link - Printer-friendly version worddoc (3 pages)

Listen! Listen to this 1987 interview with Adrienne Rich by Don Swain external link (33min)

Thanks to Adela (Y5, 06-07) I remembered this author. Thanks!

Adrienne Rich
Poem "Song" Poem "Planetarium"

Listen! Listen to "Song" external link at the TP Podcast!


You're wondering if I'm lonely:
OK then, yes, I'm lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I'm lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns' first cold breath on the city-
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I'm lonely
it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it's neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning

Listen! "The Art of Translation" external link (audio only and just a fragment o the poem, read by the author!)


(Thinking of Caroline Herschel external link, 1750-1848, astronomer, sister of William; and others)

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them

a woman "in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles"

in her 98 years to discover
8 comets
she whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetousness
ribs chilled

in those spaces of the mind
An eye,
"virile, precise and absolutely certain"
from the mad webs of Uranisborg
encountering the NOVA

every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us

Tycho whispering at last
"Let me not seem to have lived in vain"

What we see, we see
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus

I am bombarded yet I stand

I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslateable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me And has

taken I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.

Poets Org external link
Info on her work at Modern American Poetry external link