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Poetry analysis College - Essay Example

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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.
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Poetry analysis College Essay
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Poetry analysis College

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.

Rich reinforces the woman's mood of growing disenchantment, and the skewed equations in the liaison with a series of striking imagery. The studio is a reflection of the relationship itself, and the gathering dust on the "furniture of love"(2), is symbolic of the deterioration in the conditions of the relationship. A dust she had assumed will never fall does turn up, a dust the man could not be bothered about, and it is eventually up to her to remove it.

The leaking tap and the grimy window panes are similar images, and it is "half-heresy"(3) for the woman to wish they were not so, because they are a harsh antithesis of her romantic vision, which is more in line with the artistic cliches: "A plate of pears,/a piano with a Persian shawl,/ a cat stalking the picturesque amusing mouse"(3-6). Her idea of romance is based on an unrealistic, almost decadent viewpoint which the man had conjured up for her : "risen at his urging"(7).

This idea is further shattered by the creaking stairs under the steps of the milkman, the uncleared remnants of last night's romantic cheese-and-wine dinner, and an encounter with a bug that has crawled out of the moldings.The bottles are "sepulchral", a chilling reminder of decay, and the " pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own" (13), almost a threat of hidden infestation, that would manifest itself, given half a chance.

Rich creates an atmosphere of disenchantment and skepticism through these images as the woman struggles to come to terms with the realities of her existence, beginning to see her life for what it actually is, not as what she had imagined it to be and the morning light becomes the harbinger of this recognition. This unforgiving light becomes a metaphor for a reality check, an agency that chases away idealistic dreams.

Rich sketches out a slob nonchalant to the point of being callous, when the man wakes up and we are introduced to him: "Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,/sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,/declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,/rubbed at his beard, went out for ... Read More
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