An Atlas of the Difficult World XIII (Dedications)

” I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language

guessing at some words while others keep you reading

and I want to know which words they are.

I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn

between bitterness and hope

turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.

I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing

else left to read…”


This passage allows the writer to get into the reader’s head. It gets the reader to start thinking. Why am I reading this poem? What does this mean to me? I think Rich provides us with this poem so that the reader can really question themselves and their identity. It allows the reader to get out of their comfort zone  and open their eyes to what is going on in their mind. By using phrases like “I know you are…” Rich gets very personal with the reader. Rich does this to create a relationship with the reader to get them to think about themselves. In doing so, the reader takes a moment to stop and reflect. He/she is no longer numb to their daily routines, he/she is now awake and alert.

This passage relates to the whole of the novel because of its intriguing theme of the self. The poems challenge the reader by making the reader pause and reflect on themselves and what is going on around them. Like all of the poems in the novel, Rich gets into the reader’s mind. She forms a relationship with the reader that allows them to view the stories from a personal level. It is the writing of Rich that makes the reader feel as if they are almost there, witnessing the whole thing.


One thought on “An Atlas of the Difficult World XIII (Dedications)”

  1. I enjoyed your analysis of the self in this stanza. It’s interesting how Rich makes a connection with the reader and to herself. This connected in my opinion with the blog post “Free Expression.” In this post the writer believes that Rich questions her writing. Rich asks questions such as: what is the purpose of her writing? Is this writing expressing the truth or not? I found that these two posts connected. Rich questions herself while also directly reaching out to the reader to almost question: why are you reading this? It seems that with her own personal struggle to identify her poetry she wants the readers input. It’s as if she apologizes to the reader for having to read her poetry. “…reading this poem because there is nothing else to read.” Rich forms a connection between her own analysis of herself and the reader’s analysis.

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