Fate and Doom

“No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.

The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,

they happen in our lives like car crashes,”

-Poem 17 of ’21 Love Poems’

More than anything else throughout this excerpt, the phrase “fated or doomed”, stood out to me the most.  Fate and doom are both incredibly cosmic in nature,  but have different connotations that leave them on opposite ends of the spectrum that is the overall concept of destiny.  When you think of fate in the context of love, it’s uncontrollable.  And when you think of doomed love, it’s unavoidable.  My interpretation of this poem is that the narrator is saying love is something we can’t control or avoid when it really comes down to it.  It’s almost as if this is a neutral stance on the power of love, since the narrator is so adamant about how love is really just an accident.  I feel as if this might tie a bit into Rich’s personal life and sexuality.  She spent a majority of her life in the closet, but eventually did come to terms with the fact that regardless of her straight marriage, she was just naturally attracted to women.  That realization was not characterized by “fate” or “doom” for her, but rather an admittance that love is an unpredictable phenomenon, just like car crashes.

4 thoughts on “Fate and Doom”

  1. I also agree with your thoughts on the inevitable factor of love. Rich’s personal experiences tie in with the fact that she could only understand her own sexuality through coming to terms with herself in a way that defines her sexuality as natural and perfectly normal, despite the doomed fact that she was in a very unhappy, heterosexual marriage.

  2. I enjoyed your analysis of these lines and more specifically the words “fate” and “doom.” I agree with your interpretation and how love is uncontrollable and unexplainable and can happen to any two people. I also enjoy Rich’s use of these two words at the same time to describe how love occurs and how one can see it as fate or doom or perhaps it is always doom for any non heterosexual relationship because they’re not appreciated in society and still aren’t seen as acceptable love and so I think Rich is also pointing out that there is love that’s accepted in society and love that isn’t which may also be part of the meaning behind the use of fate and doom.

  3. Hello,

    Absolutely love this interpretation of Rich’s 17th of her 21 Love Poems! Love is very much something that one cannot control or avoid and is unpredictable in nature. I looked to the end of the poem for more validation for this claim:

    “and these are the forces we had ranged within us
    within us and against us, against us and within us.”

    I think these lines truly capture the unpredictable nature of love – it is a paradox to say that something is against and also within you, and the repetition of these lines truly reiterate this unknown.

  4. I enjoyed your interpretation of the poem. I agree that Rich is expressing the unpredictability of the love throughout these lines. I also think the placement of this poem in relation to the rest of the 21 poems is interesting. This poem is closer to the end, and has a much more calm and realistic tone, compared to the previous poems that had a much lighter and optimistic tone. Maybe Rich put this specific poem closer to the end because after you get over the “honeymoon” phase of love, you can see that there is always darkness where there is light.

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