My Rose-Wet Cave: The Great Love Lines of Adrienne Rich

photo of a page from Rich’s “An Atlas of a Difficult World” via Flickr

Last Wednesday, the great American poet Adrienne Rich died (1929-2012). If you ever took a “Contemporary American Poetry” class in college, then she surely holds a special place in your artistic heart. In her influential poetry and essays, she explored her identity as a political activist, a feminist and a lesbian (which was bold for the time — and still is, sadly, in some circles). Here are some of our favorite lines of Rich’s poetry about love, sex, sexuality and gender:

These are the lips, powerful rudders
pushing through groves of kelp,
the girl’s terrible, unsweetened taste
of the whole ocean, its fathoms: this is that taste

–from “That Mouth”

…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

–from “II” in Twenty-One Love Poems


I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.

–from “III” in Twenty-One Love Poems


I’d call it love if love
didn’t take so many years
but lust too is a jewel
a sweet flower and what
pure happiness to know
all our high-toned questions
breed in a lively animal

–from “Two Songs”

Should I simplify my life for you?
Don’t ask me how I began to love men.
Don’t ask me how I began to love women.– from “Four: History”