Rewriting History : Adrienne Rich (3)

Lipika Das

In “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law”, she raises the question of Identity again. Rich shows us a young woman who begins to realize that her identity is not that of the women she has been given as models: “Nervy, glowering your daughter/ wipes the teaspoons, grows another way.” “Have no patience/ … Be insatiable/… Save yourself; others you cannot save’— these are not the voices of angels, but of monsters, the inevitable accompaniment of growing self-awareness and self-involvement for women.
Again her poem “Orion’s is written in the context of self-search exercise. We can find here the reference to her half-brother— the creative portion within herself. The figuration is designed to extend the idea of feminity beyond the specifics of a given social order. The “Orion” is the force behind her creativity whom she called her “half-brother”—- who is firing and makes her to write poetry
Her personal life influenced her literary career also. In that context we may take her relationship with Michelle Cliff. In 1975, Rich began her partnership with Jamaican born novelist and editor Michelle Cliff which lasted until her death. This relationship brought a turning point to her life and she became a follower of lesbianism, opposing heterosexual relationship between man and woman. Heterosexuality might be understood by her as a patriarchal tool of control over women. “Dream of a Common Language” (1978) marked the first direct treatment of lesbian desire and sexuality in her writing.
Her poetry collection “The Dream of a Common Language” opens with a poem entitled “Power”. The complexities of this power are inherent in the story of Marie Curie , who discovered the vital properties of uranium, and who died from radiation poisoning “denying / her wounds came from the same source of power.” Curie is seen here as being conditioned by the demands of the scientific community and her sense of power is thus related to how she is perceived by her contemporaries and the society.

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