Judith McDaniel on: "Twenty-One Love Poems"

The center of The Dream of a Common Language is a group of lesbian love poems, originally published as a separate booklet. . . . [I]n these poems Rich shows us a glimpse of the power generated by love, specifically the love of women for women:

    You've kissed my hair  to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,  I say, a poem I wanted to show someone ...  and I laugh and fall dreaming again  of the desire to show you to everyone I love,  to move openly together  in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,  which carries the feathered grass a long way down      the upbreathing air.

There is a special recognition in "your small hands, precisely equal to my own," the recognition that "in these hands / I could trust the world...." The strength in these poems is the discovery of the self in another, the range of knowing and identification that seems most possible in same-sex love: the encounter of another's pain, for example, leaves the poet knowing "I was talking to my own soul." Out of that sharing grows the ability to choose solitude "without loneliness," to define one's own sphere of action and growth:

I choose to be a figure in that light,  half-blotted by darkness, something moving  across that space, the color of stone  greeting the moon, yet more than stone: a woman. I choose to walk here. And to draw this circle.

The choice, here and in most of Adrienne Rich's poetry, is of a process, a way of becoming, rather than a narrowly defined end.

From Reconstituting the World (Spinsters, Ink: 1978).

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Criticism Overview
Title Judith McDaniel on: "Twenty-One Love Poems" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Judith McDaniel Criticism Target Adrienne Rich
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 03 Feb 2016
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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