88 Memorable Quotes By Adrienne Rich, The Author Of Diving Into The Wreck
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Adrienne Cecile Rich was a vocal feminist, poet and essayist from the United States, who became one of the most well-known poets of the latter part of the 20th century and has also been credited for being one of the most influential voices on feminism during her time. She studied at Radcliffe College and then went to Oxford University on a Guggenheim Fellowship but she did not complete her course. Rich’s first book of poetry collections titled ‘A Change of the World’ received plaudits and she got the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for the book. Some of her noted works include ‘The Dream of a Common Language’, ‘Diving Into the Wreck’, ‘Snapshots of a Daughter-in-law’, ‘A Wild Patience Has Taken Me this Far’ and ‘An Atlas of the Difficult World’, among others. On the other hand, she has also written a bit of non-fiction on issues about which she felt strongly. Some of the important ones are ‘Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose’, ‘Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution’ and 'On Lies, Secrets and Silence’ among others. Rich was one of the most important intellectuals of her time and her books are still read all over the world due to their literary richness. Here are some of the best quotes by Adrienne Rich.
There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors. Lying is done with words, and also with silence. Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. I keep coming back to you in my head, but you couldn't know that, and I have no carbons When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. I feel more helpless with you than without you. No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city. [Poetry] is the liquid voice that can wear through stone. Until we know the assumptions in which we are drenched, we cannot know ourselves. If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up. It will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
It will be short, it will not be simple My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world. I touch you knowing we weren't born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die. The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet. I don't trust them but I'm learning to use them. No person, trying to take responsibility for her or his identity, should have to be so alone. There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors. ...you look at me like an emergency A thinking woman sleeps with monsters
that beak which grips her, she becomes. War is an absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political. That a war can be represented as helping a people to 'feel good' about themselves, or their country, is a measure of that failure. If you think you can grasp me, think again:
my story flows in more than one direction
a delta springing from the riverbed
with its five fingers spread The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth. Sleeping. Turning in turn like planets rotating in their midnight meadow: a touch is enough to let us know we're not alone in the universe, even in sleep. I choose to love this time for once
with all my intelligence
-from "Splittings The serious revolutionary, like the serious artist, can't afford to lead a sentimental or self-deceiving life. Not biology, but ignorance of ourselves, has been the key to our powerlessness When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever. The moment of change is the only poem. 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. And I ask myself and you, which of our visions will claim us
which will we claim
how will we go on living
how will we touch, what will we know
what will we say to each other. Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don't know you know. These scars bear witness but whether to repair or to destruction I no longer know. Love, our subject:
we've trained it like ivy to our walls. A thinking woman sleeps with monsters. If I cling to circumstances I could feel
not responsible. Only she who says
she did not choose, is the loser in the end. For now, poetry has the capacity - in its own ways and by its own means - to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. What we see, we see
and seeing is changing In a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppression, is violence. What kind of beast would turn its life into words? To do something very common, in my own way. There is nothing revolutionary whatsoever about the control of women's bodies by men. The woman's body is the terrain on which patriarchy is erected. I've had to guess at her, sewing her skin together as I sew mine, though with a different stitch Most women have not even been able to touch this anger, except to drive it inward like a rusted nail. There is no 'the truth,' 'a truth'--truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. You touched me in places so deep
I wanted to ignore you. It is always what is under pressure in us, especially under pressure of concealment--that explodes in poetry. But from here on
I want more crazy mourning, more howl, more keening
-from "A Woman Dead in Her Forties I came to explore the wreck. The words are purposes...are maps...I came to see the damage that was done and the treasures that prevail We are not supposed to go down into the darkness of the core. Yet, if we can risk it, the something born of that nothing is the beginning of truth. Nothing can be done but by inches. I write out my life hour by hour, word by word . . . imagining the existence of something uncreated this poem our lives. A language is a map of our failures Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events If you unquestioningly accept one piece of the culture that despises and fears you, you are vulnerable to other pieces. I wanted to choose words that even you
would have to be changed by
Take the word
of my pulse, loving and ordinary
Send out your signals, hoist
your dark scribbled flags
my hand - this is where I live now. If you had known me
once, you'd still know me now though in a different
light and life. This is no place you ever knew me. Those who speak largely of the human condition are usually those most exempt from its oppressions - whether of sex, race, or servitude. We move but our words stand
for more than we intended
and this is verbal privilege Poetry is, among other things, a criticism of language. 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
our names do not appear. No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love. The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness. The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities She had to possess the courage to enter, through language, states which most people deny or veil with silence. 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 have a notion that genius knows itself; that Dickinson chose her seclusion, knowing she was exceptional and knowing what she needed. Yet we can't wait for the undamaged to make our connections for us; we can't wait to speak until we are wholly clear and righteous. There is no purity, and, in our lifetimes, no end to this process. I write for the still-fragmented parts in me, trying to bring them together. Whoever can read and use any of this, I write for them as well. This is why the classical of the jazz music station plays?
to give a ground of meaning to our pain? We must use what we have to invent what we desire. I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. Only to have a grief
equal to all these tears!
There's not a sob in my chest.
Dry hearted Peer Gynt
I pare away, no hero,
merely a cook. The thing I came for:
the thing itself and not the myth In every room, the furniture reflects you larger than life, or dwindling But it is the subjects, the conversations, the facts we shy away from, which claim us in the form of writer's block, as mere rhetoric, as hysteria, insomnia, and constriction of the throat. I don't think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope ...because life is short and you too are thirsty. Can you remember? When we thought
the poets taught how to live? And yet, protest it if we will,
Some corner of the mind retains
The medieval man, who still
Keeps watch upon those starry skeins
And drives us out of doors at night
To gaze at anagrams of light. An education is not something that you get, but something that you claim. The friend I can trust is the one who will let me have my death.
The rest are actors who want me to stay and further the plot. Vous travaillez pour l'armee, madame?' (You are working for the army?), a Frenchwoman said to me early in the Vietnam war, on hearing I had three sons.
Silence can be a plan
the blueprint to a life
It is a presence
it has a history a form
Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence
Who neither touched nor spoke?
whose nape, whose finger-ends
nervelessly lied the hours away?
There is a cop who is both prowler and father:
he comes from your block, grew up with your brothers,
had certain ideals.
You grieve in loneliness, and if I understand you fuck in loneliness.
Those years you never looked at any of us. Staring into your own eyelids. Like you saw a light there. Can you see me now? Theory-the seeing of patterns, showing the forest as well as the trees