Adrienne Rich – some key quotes

When revising Adrienne Rich, here are some of the key quotes that you should know from each poem:

‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’

‘prance across a screen’

‘They do not fear’

‘fingers fluttering through her wool’

‘The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band / Sits heavily’

‘her terrified hands will lie / still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by’

‘prancing, proud and unafraid’

‘The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room’

‘standing sullen in the square’

‘talked in bitter tones’

‘held and fingered stones’

‘Certain frailties of glass’

‘Not that missiles will be cast’

‘the keeping of our kind’

‘We stand between the dead glass-blowers / and murmurings of missile-throwers’


‘in the earth deposits’

‘one bottle   amber   perfect   a hundred year old / cure for fever   or melancholy   a tonic / for living on this earth’

‘she must have known she suffered   from radiation sickness’

‘It seems she denied to the end / the source of’ the cataracts on her eyes’

‘denying / her wounds / denying / her wounds   came   from the same source as her power’

‘Storm Warnings’

‘knowing better than the instrument / What winds are walking overhead’

‘walk from window to closed window, watching’

‘a silent core of waiting’

‘this polar realm’

‘Weather abroad / And weather in the heart alike come on / Regardless of prediction.’

‘all the mastery of elements’

‘Time in the hand is not control of time’

‘These are the things that we have learned to do / Who live in troubled regions.’

‘Living In Sin’

‘no dust upon the furniture of love’

‘A plate of peares, / a piano with a Persian shawl’

‘Not that at five each separate stair would write / under the milkman’s tramp’

‘a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own’

‘Meanwhile, he, with a yawn, / sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard’

‘jeered by the minor demons’

‘she awoke sometimes to feel the daylight coming / like a relentless milkman up the stairs.’

‘The Roofwalker’

‘Giants, the roofwalkers, / on a listing deck, the wave / of darkness about to break / on their heads.’

‘The sky / is a torn sail’

‘exposed, larger than life, / and about to break my neck.’

‘Was it worth while to lay – / with infinite exertion – / a roof I can’t live under?’

‘A life I didn’t choose / chose me’

‘I’m naked’

‘Trying to Talk with a Man’

‘Out in this desert we are testing bombs’

‘this condemned scenery’

‘What we’ve had to give up to get here’

‘surrounded by a silence / that sounds like the silence of the place / except that it came with us’

‘Out here I feel more helpless / with you than without you’

‘you look at me like an emergency’

‘your eyes are stars of a different magnitude / they reflect lights that spell out: EXIT’

‘talking of danger / as if it were not ourselves / as if we were testing anything else.’

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