Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday's poem: Adrienne Rich and "the great dark birds of history"

"We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of of seemingly out of control technological and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us of kinship where all is represented as separation"
Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich who died earlier this year was a radical political poet.

As John Nicholls reminds us she was radical in both word and deed. She was intensely committed to civil rights, social justice, feminism, lesbian and gay rights and anti imperialism.
Until her death Rich maintained an exceptional level of engagement with the social and political issues of the day and her poetry challenged us all to share and maintain that engagement.

In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves
reduced to I
and the whole thing became
silly, ironic, terrible;
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to

But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
into our personal weather
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove
along the shorethrough rages of fog
where we stood saying I.
Adrienne Rich

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