Maggie Wigton
"Baltimore Brew." Adrienne Rich, an Appreciation. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
"Baltimore Brew." Adrienne Rich, an Appreciation. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Adrienne Rich was born May 16, 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland. Rich graduated from Radcliffe College and married economics professor, Alfred Conrad. Adrienne Rich struggled with the expectations of motherhood and femininity which transferred into her work. After receiving many awards for her politically and socially aware works, Rich died in 2012.

"Diving into the Wreck"

1 First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
5 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
10 assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

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

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
25 the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
30 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
35 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
40 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
45 what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
50 and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
55 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
60 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
65 toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
70 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
75 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
80 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
85 the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

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

Rich, Adrienne. "Diving into the Wreck." , Poem. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

When I began reading this poem, it seemed that it was explicitly detailing a person’s diving adventure; however as I read deeper into the work (pun intended), I realized that the meaning went beyond the words on the page. The first stanza depicts the preparation of the diver’s journey. By using diction the poet creates a mood reflecting the preparation for a battle. In the first stanza the figure’s wetsuit is described as “body-armor of black rubber” (5), and the diver compares his expedition to that of Cousteau, a naval officer and explorer (9).The descent into the ocean is described from lines 14 to 43. The author turns the surface of the water into a portal from air to water, and the ladder acts as a passage. It was interesting to read this part of the poem because the diver was almost transitioning into another world. Diving in was uncomfortable at first, just like anything different or new. The rest of the poem is filled with whimsical and frightening descriptions. Phrases like crenellated fans (48), threadbare beauty (67), and ribs of disaster (68) create an ethereal setting for the dive. The final few stanzas also expose the underlying meaning of the poem. The ultimate purpose for this diver’s expedition was exploring the shipwreck, and the remnants of the ship represent humankind after experiencing history. The protagonist also divides into different characters which are also whole, contributing to the central idea that history does not remember individuals. The final three lines are crucial to this point because Rich breaks up the meter to emphasize that all the details, the names, and the truth of history fade until it is only a myth.

Diving Game

"Fancy Diver." - Play It Now at Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

"In A Classroom"

(1) Talking of poetry, hauling the books

arm-full to the table where the heads

bend or gaze upward, listening, reading aloud,

talking of consonants, elision,

(5) caught in the how, oblivious of why:

I look in your face, Jude,

neither frowning nor nodding,

opaque in the slant of dust-motes over the table:

a presence like a stone, if a stone were thinking

(10)What I cannot say, is me.

For that I came.

Rich, Adrienne. "In A Classroom." , Poem. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Adrienne Rich’s poem, “In a Classroom”, resonated with me because it reminded me of how confused and lost I feel whenever there is a poetry unit in class. Although the poem is not lengthy by any means, it managed to confuse me upon the first couple of readings. Rich mixes the actions of the teacher and students together in the first few lines. The teacher is “hauling the books arm-full to the table where the heads bend or gaze upwards” (1-3) while the students discuss poetry. One of the most important lines of “In a Classroom” is line five because it is indicating the purpose of this poem; Rich is saying that humans are easily caught in details instead of looking at the big picture. This fits in with the author’s common political themes. The line also transitions the poem to a different point. Rich shifts to the face of her classmate, Jude, who actual dwells on the meaning and effect in the poems the class is studying. His face is difficult to interpret or understand because he is lost in thought. Rich uses attention to detail such as “dust-motes over the table” (8) and “a presence like a stone” (9) to emphasize that the real undertaking is not visible to the naked eye; almost all of the students are bored or lost, but Jude is considering the works. Lines 10 through 11 serve as a periodic statement. For the entire duration of the poem, Rich is observing her surroundings, but she transfers her attention from her environment to herself. These lines are a reference to Gerard Manly Hopkins’ poem, “As King Fishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame”, and they open a window for the reader to understand Rich’s experience in the classroom.

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"Classroom in the Cloud." Classroom in the Cloud. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

"Aunt Jennifer's Tigers"

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

5 Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
10 Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Rich, Adrienne. "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers." Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, exhibits the social commentary for which Rich is known. The work is a statement on the constraints of marriage on women. By contrasting the prancing tigers in a world of green and the heavy weight of marriage of Aunt Jennifer, Rich demonstrates the idea of what could be and what is. The narrator introduces Aunt Jennifer in a familiar way which makes the piece relatable to the reader especially because of the subject matter. In the poem the woman is embroidering a tapestry of sorts, and the poem roams into the sad, oppressed death of Aunt Jennifer which is juxtaposed with the ever-happy tigers. In the second line Rich uses imagery like “bright topaz” and “world of green” to paint a utopia where the tigers “do not fear the men beneath the tree” (3). Aunt Jennifer wants to be free and certain like a tiger; there is no distress in their world, and her embroidery reflects this longing. The second stanza takes a turn for the more serious. I interpreted the image of an “ivory needle hard to pull” (6) as a parallel to death. The ivory needle is like the bone of a finger, thinning the membrane between life and death. In line seven, the narrator describes the “massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band”, and effectively depicts the toll marriage takes on Aunt Jennifer. Unlike “The Story of An Hour”, it seems that the woman is not just longing for her freedom but actually fearful of her husband, or Uncle. The final stanza appears to be melancholy because it describes the death of Aunt Jennifer however, it is a release from the tortures of her marriage. Although she no longer would exist for those close to her, she still leaves behind the panel of fearless, prancing tigers.

Resting Tiger
Resting Tiger

Neiman, Leroy. Resting Tiger. Oil Pastels.


You show me the poems of some woman

my age, or younger

translated from your language

Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow

(5)enough to let me know

she's a woman of my time


with Love, our subject:

we've trained it like ivy to our walls

(10)baked it like bread in our ovens

worn it like lead on our ankles

watched it through binoculars as if

it were a helicopter

bringing food to our famine

(15)or the satellite

of a hostile power

I begin to see that woman

doing things: stirring rice

ironing a skirt

(20)typing a manuscript till dawn

trying to make a call

from a phonebooth

The phone rings endlessly

in a man's bedroom

(25)she hears him telling someone else

Never mind. She'll get tired.

hears him telling her story to her sister

who becomes her enemy

and will in her own way

(30)light her own way to sorrow

ignorant of the fact this way of grief

is shared, unnecessary

and political

"Five Poems by Adrienne Rich." The Nation. 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

I love everything about this poem. The way Rich talks about love from different experiences and viewpoints makes it relatable to any woman. In line seven, she breaks the flow of her words to call attention to the word “obsessed”. Reading the poem the singular word echoed in my mind for a moment, reminding me of spoken word. In the next stanza Rich reveals the various facets of love such as love, imprisonment, danger, and many more. I especially enjoy this segment of the poem because the author recognizes that love is different depending on the people and their relationship, but she also identifies that love is a dominant factor in any life. She uses phrases like “baked like it bread in our ovens” (10) and “the satellite of a hostile power” (15-16) to contrast different outlooks towards love; the hospitality and acts of service versus the fear and feeling of entrapment. The second half of the poem follows this woman through her mundane activities to her actual hobby, writing, which she is forced to do in the late hours of the night. She eventually calls a man, who I assume is her husband because she calls him from a phone booth perhaps after he does not return home that night. The man brushes her off and returns to a woman that Rich refers to as the woman’s “sister” but she uses it as a bond in womanhood. The final stanza is simplistic and final; she does not belittle the woman’s grief, but it acts as a message to the women readers that holding onto the same negativity that the woman harbors is poisonous and pointless, and it is better to release that resentment.

Lord Howe Island, Lonely Phone Booth at Night
Lord Howe Island, Lonely Phone Booth at Night

Maxpixel. "Lord Howe Island, Lonely Phone Booth at Night." Panoramio. 11 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.