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Adrienne Rich

Born in Baltimore in 1929, Adrienne Rich is the author of nearly 20 volumes of poetry. In 2004, she won the Book Critics Circle Award for her book, The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Rich has received the Bollingen Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly … Continued

Born in Baltimore in 1929, Adrienne Rich is the author of nearly 20 volumes of poetry. In 2004, she won the Book Critics Circle Award for her book, The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Rich has received the Bollingen Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the National Book Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also authored several books of nonfiction prose.

Implosions
The World’s
not wanton
only wild and wavering

I wanted to choose words that even you
would have to be changed by

Take the word
of my pulse, loving and ordinary
Send out your signals, hoist
your dark scribbled flags
but take
my hand

All wars are useless to the dead
My hands are knotted in the rope
and I cannot sound the bell

My hands are frozen to the switch
and I cannot throw it

The foot is in the wheel
When it’s finished and we’re lying
in a stubble of blistered flowers
eyes gaping, mouths staring
dusted with crushed arterial blues

I’ll have done nothing
even for you?

Questions for Reflection: “Implosions”

  1. How would you describe the mood and character of the world? Compare your ideas to those of Rich’s?
  2. Why does Rich feel that her words would change us? What do these words say about conflict, violence and the possibilities of war?
  3. How is Rich’s pulse different from how she views the world?
  4. How would you say that the offer of the poet’s hand in an extension of peace?
  5. What are the signs of distress in this poem? How do these signs relate to the title of the poem, “Implosions?”
  6. How does this poem signal “war” within oneself?
  7. What is the significance of the very last line of the poem, “I’ll have done nothing even for you?”
  8. How might “Implosions” be a call to rethink the mood and character of the world?
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