“Every peak is a crater. This is the law of volcanoes, making them eternally and visibly female. No height without depth, without a burning core” (Rich, 148).
When reading this particular excerpt of section XI of Twenty-One Love Poems I immediately notice the gender attachment that Adrienne Rich gives to the volcano. The law of volcanoes is when power is forcefully held in, and then bursts. A volcano is extremely powerful and by identifying the “law of volcanoes” as a woman, it creates the parallelism of the harnessing and withholding of power, and the eruption of power as similar to the power of woman. It also relates to the suffering of woman, which is a common theme throughout Twenty-One Love Poems. Rich commonly discusses woman finding their power through many different aspects, such as love or language, and that woman are forced by society to withhold their power. However, once one is able to harness the power which they hold in their “burning core”, they allow it to erupt and therefore become more powerful. Another place we see this idea is in Audre Lorde’s piece, The Uses of the Erotic. In Lorde’s writing she discusses the idea of redefining the word erotic to mean power or using erotic as a resource for power. Once one is able to understand where that comes from, they can use it to their ability and become more powerful and self aware. For Rich it is the comparison between the volcano and a woman that exemplifies this, and for Lorde it is when she writes “the erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling,” (Lorde 87). In both pieces, the usage of power is thought of as an entirely female force which is kept inside, until it is recognized, and once one can fully understand it, then it is an extremely powerful force.