One of the best-loved American contemporary poets, Adrienne Rich has been writing feminist verse for more than five decades. An example of her better known poems, "Living in Sin"was published in a book called The Diamond Cutters in 1955, and is a compelling feminist portrait of a couple's fading love, when faced with the harsh realities of day-to-day existence.
The man, on waking, yawns, declares the piano out of tune after playing on it a little, shrugs at his unkempt self in the mirror and walks out to get cigarettes, leaving her to clean up the household and make coffee. By evening she finds herself regaining her sense of romance, but the niggling reminder of daylight and all that it will bring keeps her awake at night.By presenting the woman's point of view in this way, Rich examines the conventional order and understanding of the relationship between genders in a new and intriguing manner.
Seen in the context of when it was written, the title may seem to indicate that the couple is living together possibly without being married, something frowned upon in those times.But when subjected to a modern reading, the sin may lie not in cohabiting without matrimony, but in living together in a loveless relationship: marriage may imply certain obligations in a relationship, but the irony of staying together despite growing romantic disillusionment in an arrangement based on love, is poignant. During the stretch of the poem there is no loving interaction between the couple, and indeed the man does not even show more than a cursory acknowledgment of his partner.