poetry by rich and updike

Adrienne Rich died this week. I’ve admired her poetry and essays over the years, as well as her clear-eyed political understanding of this poor country.

Adrienne Rich, Influential Feminist Poet, Dies at 82 – NYTimes.com

So last night I checked and was annoyed that my collection of her work was not filed correctly in my poetry books. Damn. This morning I got up and poked around until I found it in a stack of books waiting to be filed.

My collection has three books of hers bound as one. What is found there (1993) is a collection of essays. An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991) and The Fact of a Doorframe (1974) are poetry collections.

I began my morning reading with Rich. I found this lovely sentence in an essay in the first volume:

“To read as if your life depended on it would mean to let into your reading your beliefs, the swirl of your dreamlife, the physical sensations of your ordinary carnal life; and, simultaneously to allow what you’re reading to pierce the routines, safe and impermeable, in which ordinary carnal life is tracked, charted, channeled.”

from the essay, “As if your life depended on it” by Adrienne Rich

Perusing her poetry this morning sent me to the dictionary numerous times. Actually to the internet which is my dictionary of convenience.

Did you know a “corm” is the swollen, underground stem base of flowers like crocuses and gladioli? Rich used this word in a striking image: “This is the desert where missiles are planted like corms…” (from her poem, “Here is a map of our country”).

Girasol is another word for sunflowers which as also called Jerusalem Artichokes

and Sunchokes:

“the girasol, orange, gold-petalled/ with her black eye, laces the roadsides from Vermont to California…”

When I turned to read Updike this morning, I ran across another poem with a reference to sunflowers, an entire poem, in fact.

by John Updike

Sunflower, of flowers
the most lonely,
yardstick of hours,
long-term stander
in empty spaces,
shunner of bowers,
indolent bender
seldom, in only
the sharpest of showers:
tell us, why
is it your face is
a snarl of jet swirls
and gold arrows, a burning
old lion face high
in a cornflower sky,
yet by turning
your head we find
you wear a girl’s
bonnet behind?

from The Carpentered Hen and other tame creatures by John Updike

I need to quit blogging and go clean up my Mom’s old room at the nursing home. But one more poetry reference.

I was tickled to run across a poem entitled “March: a birthday poem for Elizabeth” which Updike wrote to his daughter. I have a daughter named Elizabeth who was born in March as well. I emailed her a link to the poem.


Refugees Say Neighbor Shoots Neighbor in Syrian Crackdown – NYTimes.com

Yikes. Neighbor shooting neighbor.


Earl Scruggs, Bluegrass Banjo Player, Dies at 88 – – NYTimes.com

Great musician died.


‘Theft’ Law in the 21st Century – NYTimes.com

The information in this article is pretty familiar to me, but as the author points out it doesn’t inform the scandalous rhetoric of the music/movie moguls.


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