Introspection in “Dialogue”

Adrienne Rich’s Dialogue looks at an interaction between Rich and another woman. The poem starts with some imagery of the woman sitting during their long conversation, a shift in the poem occurs when the narrator gets up to make a cup of tea. This shift is mostly seen at the end of the first stanza and carries through to the end of the poem. Rich utilizes enjambment as well as certain punctuation within the lines in order to create pauses and alter the flow of the poem. Rich also uses parentheses in order to show the narrators thoughts about what the woman  had to say. The words that are said are all in italics, starting in the first stanza and all of the second stanza.

The second stanza is full of “I” and question words. She is talking about what she had done in her past and how it made her feel. This retrospective conversation is vague but it can be inferred that she is talking about her feelings or lack thereof for someone. She is confronting her past and trying to make some sense of it, even if there isn’t a strong resolution that comes out of it. These lines come across as an internal dialogue, but could also be words shared from the woman. The ambiguity of this poem is something that makes it so striking and engaging.

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Biology major and Gender Studies Minor!

3 thoughts on “Introspection in “Dialogue””

  1. First off, I loved your interpretation of and insight into “Dialogue”, as this poem spoke to me a lot, as well. I ended up analyzing “In Those Years” for this assignment, but found many similarities and connections between both poems! I really enjoyed your attention to the multiple attention to and uses of the word “I” in the poem, as this is a common theme in “In Those Years”, as well. I also found the theme of retrospection that you discussed to be intriguing because it speaks to the fluidity and multidimensionality of the poem in the sense that this dialogue is both external and internal. I connect this with “In Those Years” because that poem also discusses the multilayered aspect of one’s identities and understanding and acceptance of the self in an exploratory manner. There is also a sense of abstractness and ambiguity in both poems, which allows the reader to interpret the poems in a variety of ways, which is always interesting!

  2. Hello!
    I think this is a very interesting and thorough reading of the two different stanzas in Rich’s “Dialogue.” I think your use of the word “ambiguity” is significant in this context as well as in Rich’s other poem, “Diving into the Wreck.” Both poems have a sense of never really allowing the reader to fully grasp what is happening or what Rich is trying to describe. In “Diving into the Wreck,” it is the wreck that is left somewhat ambiguous, which then allows for many different interpretations, and the same can be said for “Dialogue” as well. I think that’s what is so great about poetry, in general, it is left up to the reader, not all the time, but a lot of the time, to interpret the poem in the way they view it. And I think this goes back to the larger idea of the LGBTQ community and how it is all about interpreting things according to each individual’s thoughts and feelings.

  3. Hi!
    I like your examination of “Dialogue” and the points you make. I would love to know what you make of the decisions you discuss. You mention that there are two speakers and how the one speaks in the whole second stanza. Why do you think Rich uses two voices or perhaps there is only one. The dialogue appears to transform into a monologue or internal dialogue as you mention but where does the other speaker go? I believe the switch into italics emphasizes the speaker’s troubled thoughts and her desire to understand them and therefore the other speaker is no longer relevant. Additionally, the “I’s” seem to create a sense of uncertainty and confusion with the speaker herself. Who is “I”? The speaker does not know who she truly is and her conflicting emotions impact her changing identity. I think Rich does a great job conveying how scary and confusing it can be to discover a part of yourself you don’t understand quite yet.

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