A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

“My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the natations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the gailure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus that said:
my bleeding is under control.

A red plant in a cemetery of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlinght.
when I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those morntains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.”


I chose to write about “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”. As Adrienne Rich was defending women’s rights and place in society, lesbianism and many more concerns, she wrote this poem to express how she felt as a woman in the 1960-1970’s. She urges the idea that women have written poems on themes that are “under duress” as she says. She points out that women don’t write about their experiences, how they feel and what they think. Her theme must have been about her want for women to become free in their thoughts, fearless in their writing. The speaker could be her as she expresses her ideas and values, while portraying herself as “I” and talks about “my swirling wants”. The audience could be women in general who are not expressing themselves or it could be directed towards men and their “language/grammar”. The poem is composed of six stanzas, the first one containing four lines, the third containing five lines and the fifth containing six lines. These are separated by one line stanzas as the second, fourth and sixth ones, for a total of eighteen lines. There is one rhyme at the end of her poem when she used “say” and “way” but other than that there appears to be none. She uses the metaphor “a red plant in a cemetery of plastic wreaths” in the middle of her poem, and we could see another one if we see the “wound” she is talking about as a mental wound. She also talks about metaphors in her poem. In the first stanza, I realized there was sibilance in the last two lines as she uses the words “duress” and “emptiness”.

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