ADRIENNE RICH ...a candid poet
I have to admit to being nearly illiterate when it comes to poetry. Although I am an avid reader (at least two books a week) I do not seem to be able to relate to most poetry. Recently, however, I was perusing a book by Bill Moyers, titled The Language of Life, a Festival of Poets and I came across this poem by Adrienne Rich. It really spoke to me.
Perhaps that is because she is in my age group. Perhaps it is because she is a feminist thinker and political activist. Perhaps it is because I have the same fears.
I love the fact that she refused offers from both the Clinton and the Bush administrations to perform at White House functions. That tells me that she lives what she writes and I think that is rare in this day and age. Here is the poem:
“WHAT KIND OF TIMES ARE THESE”
“There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off in to shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled,
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.
I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods meeting the unmarked strip of light --
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times
to have you listen at all, It’s necessary
to talk about trees.”