Adrienne Rich:

“She died   a famous woman   denying

her wounds


her wounds   came from the same source as her power”

Okay so these lines stuck out to me the most because it’s like they are opposite phrases to one another-one states this woman dies denying her wounds (not recognizing her pain and suffering), but she states that she got her power from this same denial. At first this made no sense to me because the way I have learned to process and live life constitutes me acknowledging my pain and suffering– that’s how I grow as a person, that’s how I recognize that the same things that give me pain, have given me power to be better, stronger, more beautiful, understanding, and accepting. So these two phrases were contradictory to me and I could just understand why she was saying this and how she struggled with this. In my group we tried to analyze this and we talked about what her power is. We talked about how she was an amazing scientists and how when women are in positions of power “they lose femininity” and they have to sacrifice so many things– for example a woman who is a doctor most likely spends less time with her child and so she suffers because she cannot be with the child as much and the woman has to hide this pain and deny her suffering in front of her colleagues or else they would scrutinize her. Then, we talked about how she did have cancer and if she wanted to continue to do research and be a scientist she had to deny she was in pain, or else she would have to stop her work because of her health. This made more sense to me. We also talked about the element itself she was purifying is so damn powerful and it did help her kill off some cancer, it was also causing her pain and suffering, so in order to keep treating her cancer, she had to ignore the pain that came with the toxin.

2 thoughts on “Power”

  1. It took me a while to dissect what these lines were truly saying, but now they speak so clearly to a message about those who are oppressed. Relating to the “scream of an illegitimate voice” lines, the theme here is also about having to suppress ones true voice and feelings in order to survive in society. These lines are more directed at the price women pay in order to be successful, but both themes are still present. On sort of a side note, these lines reminded me of this presidential election with Hilary Clinton and how she has to suppress her emotions often in order to be taken seriously by men.

  2. Like the author of this post, I found the two phrases contradictory as well. I think Rich provides this contradiction on purpose. It almost as if it makes sense but does not at the same time. I think what Rich is going for is the idea of having to silence your true self so that what you really “speak” fits into society’s norms. Rich also moves towards the idea of women and what they have to deal with in society.

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