At the age of eighty two, one of our most esteemed poets took her leave, in Santa Cruz, on March 27, 2012. Many of us will remember reading the poems of Adrienne Rich in our salad days and there are those who may recall being inspired to write poetry after reading her work. People who are really good at something make it look easy.
Critics will say that great, strong and vivid writing will jump off the page. Unlike so many wonderful poets who toil in obscurity, Ms. Rich was recognized early. A daughter of a renowned pathologist and concert pianist, she was raised as a future progeny. While poetry may not have been the desired aim of her parents, she found a clear and solid voice at Radcliffe College and went on to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship to Oxford.
While her political leanings and feminist causes are well documented, I believe she will be remembered for her poetry above all. Here is an excerpt from What Times are These:
“There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into the shadows,
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I've walked there picking mushrooms
at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem this is not somewhere else but here
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread
its own ways of making people disappear.”
For a closer look at the poems of this marvelous woman: