Thursday, 4 February 2010


There are some very powerful and deftly made poems in Rich's The Dream of a Common Language. But there's something I'm not sure about, a whiff of the woman-as-victim-martyr about the first, 'Power', about Marie Curie, who 'suffered from radiation sickness/her body bombarded for years by the element/she had purified'; and which ends like this:
She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.
It's not that its bad poetry (the repeated 'denying/her wounds', with its clever portmanteau of two opposed Christ-related echoes); it's that it is emotionally dodgy, and ontologically mendacious. Our wounds do not make us strong.

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