Friday, May 28, 2021

Adrienne Rich's "Rusted Legacy", Hermann Hesse, and Ilya Kaminsky

Adrienne Rich's 1997 poem "Rusted Legacy" begins with "a city where nothing's / forgiven [...] but almost everything's forgiven", "a city partitioned" where a speaker remembers what she can: "I finger the glass beads I strung and wore / under the pines while the arrests were going on". This string of beads is not for prayer or meditation but to remember the time when she made it and kept herself out of the city's conflicts. While those "glass beads" echo the Hermann Hesse's 1943 novel "The Glass Bead Game", the image of living one's life during a conflict re-appears in Ilya Kaminsky's 2013 poem "But We Lived Happily During the War". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 May 2021)



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