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The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne…
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The Dream of a Common Language (original 1978; edition 1978)

by Adrienne Rich

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760717,849 (4.39)56
Member:konallis
Title:The Dream of a Common Language
Authors:Adrienne Rich
Info:New York : Norton, 1978.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:poetry, American literature, read 2018

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The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 by Adrienne Rich (1978)

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» See also 56 mentions

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Hunger
-for Audre Lorde

1.

A fogged hill-scene on an enormous continent,
intimacy rigged with terrors,
a sequence of blurs the Chinese painter's ink-stick planned,
a scene of desolation comforted
by two human figures recklessly exposed,
leaning together in a sticklike boat
in the foreground. Maybe we look like this,
I don't know. I'm wondering
whether we even have what we think we have--
lighted windows signifying shelter,
a film of domesticity
over fragile roofs. I know I'm partly somewhere else--
huts strung across a drought-stretched land
not mine, dried breasts, mine and not mine, a mother
watching my children shrink with hunger.
I live in my Western skin,
my Western vision, torn
and flung to what I can't control or even fathom.
Quantify suffering, you could rule the world.

2.

They *can* rule the world while they can persuade us
our pain belongs in some order.
Is death by famine worse than death by suicide,
than a life of famine and suicide, if a black lesbian dies,
if a white prostitute dies, if a woman genius
starves herself to feed others,
self-hatred battening on her body?
Something that kills us or leaves us half-alive
is raging under the name of an "act of god"
in Chad, in Niger, in teh Upper Volta--
yes, that male god that acts on us and on our children,
that male State that acts on us and on our children
till our brains are blunted by malnutritiou,
yet sharpened by the passion for survival,
our powers expended daily on the struggle
to hand a kind of life on to our children,
to change reality for our lovers
even in a single trembling drop of water.

3.

We can look at each other through both our lifetimes
like those two figures in the sticklike boat
flung together in the Chinese ink-scene;
even our intimacies are rigged with terror.
Quantify suffering? My guilt at least is open,
I stand convicted by all my convictions--
you, too. We shrink from touching
our power, we shrink away, we starve ourselves
and each otehr, we're scared shitless
of what it could be to take and use our love,
hose it on a city, on a world,
to wield and guide its spray, destroying
poisons, parasites, rats, viruses--
like the terrible mothers we long and dread to be.

4.

The decision to feed the world
is the real decision. No revolution
has chosen it. For that choice requires
that women shall be free.
I choke on the taste of bread in North America
but the taste of hunger in North America
is poisoning me. Yes, I'm alive to write these words,
to leaf through Kollwitz's women
huddling the stricken children into their stricken arms
the "mothers" drained of milk, the "survivors" driven
to self-abortion, self-starvation, to a vision
bitter, concrete, and wordless.
I'm alive to want more than life,
want it for others starving and unborn,
to name the deprivations boring
into my will, my affections, into the brains
of daughters, sisters, lovers caught in the crossfire
of terrorists of the mind.
In the black mirror of the subway window
hangs my own face, hollow with anger and desire.
Swathed in exhaustion, on the trampled newsprint,
a woman shields a dead child from the camera.
The passion to be inscribes her body.
Until we find each other, we are alone.
( )
  Adriana_Scarpin | Jun 12, 2018 |
Personal favorites: "Transcendental Etude," and "Twenty-one Love Poems" ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
beautiful poetry, raw with emotion, very moving words about love and intimacy.

a few of my favorite passages:

No one lives in this room
without confronting the whiteness of the wall
behind the poems, planks of books,
photographs of dead heroines.
Without contemplating last and late
the true nature of poetry. The drive
to connect. The dream of a common language.

"we could have stitched that blueness together like a quilt"

What does love mean
What does it mean "to survive"
A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
burning together in the snow
We will not live
to settle for less
we have dreamed of this
our whole lives. ( )
  dawnlovesbooks | Jul 6, 2015 |
Wow. This is Real Poetry. Raw and beautiful emotion and tragedy. I felt rather embarrassed to be reading some of these - just from the sense of intimacy that they portrayed, I felt as though I was an ugly intruder upon that.

Copied almost all of these down. Power, the 21 love poems. Now to decide which ones to commit to memory. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
A beautiful collection of modern poetry here. Reminds me of a line from Audre Lorde: "For women, poetry is not a luxury." Rich puts forth vital words here. ( )
  quantumbutterfly | May 26, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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"The Dream of a Common Language explores the contours of a woman's heart and mind in language for everybody--language whose plainness, laughter, questions and nobility everyone can respond to... No one is writing better or more needed verse than this.:--Boston Evening Globe.… (more)

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