Friday, March 12, 2021

"I know you are reading this poem": The grammar of intimacy in Adrienne Rich's "Dedications"

Every sentence in Adrienne Rich's "Dedications" begins with "I know you are reading this poem". The progressive "are reading" refers to an act in progress at the present moment, so as one reads "Dedications", the acts of reading the poem describes seem to coincide with one's own reading. Further, the demonstrative pronoun "this" makes "Dedications" itself the poem being read. These two effects make one feel directly addressed as "you" while reading "Dedications", while also making the "I" seem more like the poet herself than a poetic "speaker". The grammar thus generates an effect of intimacy that constructs the reader as a participant in the scenes of reading the poem describes. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 12 March 2021)

There's a video of Rich reading the poem here.

Adrienne Rich "Dedication" - YouTube | Adrienne rich ...

No comments: