Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adrienne Rich


I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body
We circle silently about the wreck
we dive into the hold. ...

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to the scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

(extract: Diving Into The Wreck by Rich)

I was sad to hear that Adrienne Rich died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz.
Of Woman Born by Rich was the first feminist book I read, or was aware of reading (before I cottoned on that Red Riding Hood was a call to arms!)

"The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet."

Adrienne Rich


10 comments:

Orla Fay said...

That's a great quote Niamh.

Old Kitty said...

Thanks for sharing a piece of her stunning poetry here! And what a quote too! Take care
x

Jackie Jordan said...

The quote is quite accurate. That's why I have always said that it's past time for a female chief executive.

Niamh B said...

have never read her, but had seen her name around a good bit. Thanks for sharing is right - blogs is where I get all my news.

Jan Morrison said...

I love Adrienne Rich too and the stupid thing is that I thought she was dead already. Thank you for this - Diving into the Wreck is one of the most wonderful poems ever.

Words A Day said...

Diving Into The wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Words A Day said...

Thanks Jan - it is a great poem- I posted it here in full. (Blogger was playing up and wouldnt let me edit the text of my original post.)

Liza said...

Yes, this made me sad when I read it today. The poem grabs...

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Ah it's very sad. But she did great things with her life too.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm sorry a poet you admire has died. Thanks for sharing her poetry.