Sunday, May 01, 2011

Storm Warnings

I first read this poem in high school, taking a practice test for my AP Literature class. I think its unexpectedness paired with my need to ANALYZE-THIS-IN-40-MINUTES-GO! indelibly printed it on my mind.

In college, I kept it framed on my wall (that, and the lyrics to "Mystery" by Indigo Girls...yes, yes, melodramatic, I know) still fits my optimistic-yet-fatalistic-with-a-dash-of-melancholy inner self.

I later read more Rich poetry (and, yes, it is rich/Rich on many levels) and always find her profound and a bit inscrutable. Just the way poetry should be.

Storm Warnings
by Adrienne Rich

The glass has been falling all the afternoon,
And knowing better than the instrument
What winds are walking overhead, what zone
Of grey unrest is moving across the land,
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair
And walk from window to closed window, watching
Boughs strain against the sky

And think again, as often when the air
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting,
How with a single purpose time has traveled
By secret currents of the undiscerned
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.

Between foreseeing and averting change
Lies all the mastery of elements
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter.
Time in the hand is not control of time,
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise,
We can only close the shutters.

I draw the curtains as the sky goes black
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine
Of weather through the unsealed aperture.
This is our sole defense against the season;
These are the things we have learned to do
Who live in troubled regions.

Thanks to Laura of What She Read for this blog hop!


Laurie said...

Wow. This you put on your wall in college? You were one deep chick, even then.
I agree with you on Rich: I admire her, and especially enjoy listening to her talk about poetry, but often feel I haven't quite caught a synergistic wave with her voicings.
On the other hand, this particular poem seems more scrutable than many, and I felt instantly moved by its truths: Just because we can predict does not mean we can effectively avoid or counter the forces of inner and outer nature. Small gestures must suffice.
Love this one, and it's new to me, so thank you, Dana.
Sap that I am, and frequent Girls' concert-goer, the Indigos' "Love Will Come To You" woulda been on my wall...

Birdie said...

I've never spent much time with Rich's poetry--that's something I need to remedy. In general, I tend to stay buried in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is a gorgeous poem, though--so evocative.

I see that Laurie added what her Indigo Girls song would have been, so I'll add mine as well. I would have had "Closer to Fine." Just the thought of it makes me smile remembering my freshman year of college.