Adrienne Rich's feminism emerged in mid-career, and many of her later poems express a political rage and search for sisterhood and creative language.
Selected Adrienne Rich Quotations
• Life on the planet is born of woman.
• Today's women
Dealing with tomorrow
Not yet where we're going
But not still where we were.
• Women have been the truly active people in all cultures, without whom human society would long ago have perished, though our activity has most often been on the behalf of men and children.
• I am a feminist because I feel endangered, psychically and physically, by this society and because I believe that the women's movement is saying that we have come to an edge of history when men - insofar as they are embodiments of the patriarchal idea - have become dangerous to children and other living things, themselves included.
• The most notable fact our culture imprints on women is the sense of our limits. The most important thing one woman can do for another is to illuminate and expand her sense of actual possibilities.
• But to be a female human being trying to fulfill traditional female functions in a traditional way is in direct conflict with the subversive function of the imagination.
• Until we know the assumptions in which we are drenched, we cannot know ourselves.
• When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.
• Lying is done with words and also with silence.
• False history gets made all day, any day,
the truth of the new is never on the news
• If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.
• There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.
• The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.
• The worker can unionize, go out on strike; mothers are divided from each other in homes, tied to their children by compassionate bonds; our wildcat strikes have most often taken the form of physical or mental breakdown.
• Much male fear of feminism is the fear that, in becoming whole human beings, women will cease to mother men, to provide the breast, the lullaby, the continuous attention associated by the infant with the mother. Much male fear of feminism is infantilism -- the longing to remain the mother's son, to possess a woman who exists purely for him.
• How we dwelt in two worlds the daughters and the mothers in the kingdom of the sons.
• No woman is really an insider in the institutions fathered by masculine consciousness. When we allow ourselves to believe we are, we lose touch with parts of ourselves defined as unacceptable by that consciousness; with the vital toughness and visionary strength of the angry grandmothers, the shamanesses, the fierce marketwomen of the Ibo's Women's War, the marriage-resisting women silkworkers of prerevolutionary China, the millions of widows, midwives, and the women healers tortured and burned as witches for three centuries in Europe.
• It's exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.
• War is an absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political.
• Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language -- this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable.
• There are days when housework seems the only outlet.
• Sleeping, turning in turn like planets
rotating in their midnight meadow:
a touch is enough to let us know
we're not alone in the universe, even in sleep...
• The moment of change is the only poem.
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About These Quotes
Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2005. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Adrienne Rich Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/qu_adriennerich.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)