The Poems “Transparencies” and “History” by Adrienne Rich

The process of working on poetry requires continuous self-referencing and reflection, which allows a poet to improve their style and convey intended messages precisely. In the case of Adrienne Rich, the re-vision of poetry is essential since the poet critically assesses her works, revealing some of the most pivotal characteristics (25-26). In her poems “Transparencies” and “History,” Rich continues to be too literary and rely on allusions despite her own criticism of such an approach utilized in her earlier works. The use of allusions and literary claims helps the author unfold political gender themes persisting in the two analyzed poems.

Feminist poetry is particularly associated with politics since it addresses the issues of gender inequality and the differences between the roles performed by men and women in society. In her poems “History” and “Transparencies,” Rich repeatedly refers to the politics behind women’s experiences to emphasize the persistence of the issue of gender bias that does not resolve itself despite applied solutions. In her essay that serves the role of a context article for this paper, Rich cites feminist writers and asks why male writers refer to women as “a dream and a terror,” but women never say the same about men (19). Men’s dominance in society, literature, and culture imposes on women’s continuous fighting, using their bodies as weapons (Rich 18-19). The motifs of dreams and weapons embodied in female nature are at the essence of the poet’s works “History” and “Transparencies.”

In her poem “History,” Rich refers to the concept of a dream but from a different perspective. She actively uses allusion to draw the picture of women’s dreams of a life without oppression. However, “dreaming that dream we leaned applying lipstick” and “she wore no lipstick” when the Allies “have won the war” (Mays 998). In “History,” the poet draws allusions and similarities with World War II to compare its results with the results of women’s emancipation. Stating that after the war was over, the “peace rained down on the winds from Hiroshima Nagasaki” and “the socialist queer Christian teacher jumps from the hotel window,” Rich literary shows how peace fails (Mays 999). In a similar manner, there are no changes and vivid results of the war of women against male dominance.

In a similar manner, the poem “Transparencies” demonstrates the use of a literary approach (as the title implies) to draw parallels between women’s experiences and Israeli military antecedents. Indeed, Rich states that words are used as excuses, like the signature on the wall saying “we are truly sorry for the mess we made” left by Israeli soldiers do not eliminate the damage they have done (Mays 999). Instead, the author claims that “words can translate in broken bones” and that “the body can be a weapon” (Mays 999). These allusions are connected with Rich’s accounts of Virginia Woolf’s claims about women’s inability to use words as weapons since men dominated the intellectual sphere (20). Thus, the poet nintegrates historical and political discourses to deliver her message on the continued women’s oppression in a male society.

In summation, the contextual analysis of the micro-theme of politics in Rich’s poems “History” and “Transparencies” has demonstrated that the poet persists in using allusion and is being literary. With the help of such poetic means, the poet draws parallels with wars’ results leading to continued difficulties with women’s emancipation that fails to succeed. Conclusively, Rich’s poetic manner helps her establish strong connections between concepts and ideas for deliberate and straightforward main theme delivery.

Works Cited

Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 13th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2022.

Rich, Adrienne. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision.” College English, vol. 34, no. 1, 1972, pp. 18-30.

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