Collected Early Poems, 1950-1970

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More than 200 poems collected from Adrienne Rich's first six books, plus a dozen others of those decades.
From their first publication, when Rich was twenty-one, in the prestigious Yale Younger Poets series, the successive volumes of her poetry have both charted the growth of her own mind and vision and mirrored our tempestuous, unsettled age. Her unmistakable voice, speaking even from the earliest poems with rare assurance and precision, ...

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More than 200 poems collected from Adrienne Rich's first six books, plus a dozen others of those decades.
From their first publication, when Rich was twenty-one, in the prestigious Yale Younger Poets series, the successive volumes of her poetry have both charted the growth of her own mind and vision and mirrored our tempestuous, unsettled age. Her unmistakable voice, speaking even from the earliest poems with rare assurance and precision, wrestles with urgent questions while never failing to explore new poetic territory.
In Collected Early Poems, readers will once again bear witness to Rich's triumphant assertion of the centrality of poetry in our intertwined personal and political lives.

National Book Award finalist Adrienne Rich (An Atlas of the Difficult World) is unequaled among living poets for her success in reclaiming serious poetry from scholars and returning it to the lives of general readers. Collected here for the first time are more than 200 poems: all those in her first six books plus a dozen others.

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Editorial Reviews

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Basic for a library of contemporary poetry.— Fred Eckman
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Fred Eckman
“Basic for a library of contemporary poetry.”
Fred Eckman - Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Basic for a library of contemporary poetry.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The latest volume from this distinguished poet ( An Atlas of the Difficult World ) contains all of the work included in Rich's first six books, and a few previously uncollected pieces as well. Her poetry of the 1950s stems from a strong, mostly male tradition, obviously and intentionally echoing the work of Frost, Williams, Dickinson and Stevens. These poems read easily and beautifully; Rich's language is cautious and well crafted, almost painfully perfect in its rhyme schemes and rhythms. She does not focus on distinctly female experience, but speaks instead of the more universal struggle of humanity in a ``disordered, fragmentary world.'' Over time, Rich's style becomes more divergent and forceful; it gathers narrative threads and experiments with irregular rhythms, line breaks and pauses. She writes of the struggle of the socially marginal in a world where there are definite limits to growth and boundaries to thought: ``I am a woman . . . feeling the fullness of her powers / at the precise moment when she must not use them.'' The poems written in the 1960s are pervaded by the poet's consciousness of the subversive nature of creativity, especially for women, a gift at risk of being suppressed or curtailed at any moment by the self, family or the male-dominated society. In the last poems of the period, Rich's voice is firm and brave, her language still searingly beautiful and individual. This important volume charts the radical transformation of one of America's most significant poets. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This volume charts Rich's development as a poet, beginning with the precocious formal poems of her first books ( A Change of World, The Diamond Cutters ), originally published in the 1950s, and ending with the increasingly politically informed poems of the late 1960s ( The Will To Change ). Rich's grave intelligence and technical mastery are brilliantly evident in every poem. Her greatest gift is for subtly exploring emotional and psychological states while remaining mindful of how cultural forces shape our thoughts and action. As she writes in one of her best-known poems (about the 18th-century astronomer Caroline Herschel), ``I am an instrument in the shape/ of a woman trying to translate pulsations/ into images for the relief of the body/ and the reconstruction of the mind.'' By one of our major poets, this is essential for all libraries.-- Christine Stenstrom, Shea and Gould Law Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393313857
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 458
  • Sales rank: 712,298
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed and widely taught, Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) was for decades among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose. Her constellation of honors includes a National Book Award for poetry for Tonight, No Poetry Will Serve, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1994, and a National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck. That volume, published in 1973, is considered her masterwork. Ms. Rich’s other volumes of poetry include The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose includes the essay collections On Lies, Secrets, and Silence; Blood, Bread, and Poetry; an influential essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” and the nonfiction book Of Woman Born, which examines the institution of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. In 2006, Rich was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. In 2010, she was honored with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award.

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Table of Contents

Storm Warnings3
Aunt Jennifer's Tigers4
The Ultimate Act6
What Ghosts Can Say7
The Kursaal at Interlaken8
Purely Local11
A View of the Terrace12
By No Means Native13
Air without Incense15
For the Felling of an Elm in the Harvard Yard16
A Clock in the Square17
Why Else But to Forestall This Hour18
This Beast, This Angel19
Eastport to Block Island20
At a Deathbed in the Year Two Thousand21
The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room24
Five O'Clock, Beacon Hill26
From a Chapter on Literature27
An Unsaid Word28
Mathilde in Normandy29
At a Bach Concert30
The Rain of Blood31
Stepping Backward32
A Revivalist in Boston36
The Return of the Evening Grosbeaks37
The Springboard38
A Change of World39
Design in Living Colors41
Walden 195043
Sunday Evening45
The Innocents47
"He Remembereth That We Are Dust"49
Life and Letters50
For the Conjunction of Two Planets54
The Prisoners57
The House at the Cascades59
The Roadway63
Pictures by Vuillard64
Orient Wheat65
Annotation for an Epitaph68
Ideal Landscape69
The Celebration in the Plaza70
The Tourist and the Town71
The Insusceptibles74
Lucifer in the Train75
Recorders in Italy76
At Hertford House77
The Wild Sky78
The Prospect79
Epilogue for a Masque of Purcell81
Villa Adriana83
The Explorers85
Landscape of the Star87
Letter from the Land of Sinners89
Concord River91
Living in Sin94
Autumn Equinox95
The Strayed Village100
The Perennial Answer103
The Insomniacs109
The Snow Queen111
Love in the Museum113
I Heard a Hermit Speak114
A Walk by the Charles116
New Year Morning117
In Time of Carnival118
The Middle-Aged119
The Marriage Portion120
The Tree121
Lovers Are Like Children123
When This Clangor in the Brain124
A View of Merton College125
The Capital127
The Platform128
Last Song129
The Diamond Cutters131
At Majority135
From Morning-Glory to Petersburg136
Rural Reflections137
The Knight138
II kissed you, bride and lost, and went139
IIWell, you are tougher than I thought139
The Absent-Minded Are Always to Blame141
Euryclea's Tale142
September 21143
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  • Posted February 11, 2010

    Judging this book by its cover.

    It is said that one cannot judge a book by its cover. I am not one to disagree with such time-honored truth. However, in light of the fact that all one has to go on is the cover of this book, one is inclined to find it (that is the cover and perhaps not the book) to be extraordinarily pedestrian and ordinary. It is hoped that the poetry contained within rises to higher levels than the design of the cover of this book.

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