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Analysis and comments on Prospective Immigrants Please Note by Adrienne Rich

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Comment 11 of 121, added on February 26th, 2007 at 1:47 PM.

I'm doing this english report and we have to read this poem........that's
it.

Nickolaus Eck from United States
Comment 10 of 121, added on February 23rd, 2007 at 7:50 AM.

it is a good poem and it has a meaning to it

Jerry from Azerbaijan
Comment 9 of 121, added on May 25th, 2006 at 10:06 AM.

there are always doors to open in life, not only for immigrants, and we
never know what we will find behind...This poem inspires me and suddendly i
like the doors... Or not...Who knows ?

yann rolland from France
Comment 8 of 121, added on February 25th, 2006 at 4:27 PM.

This poem is the most memorable poem for me than any of other poems that I
have read, because I myself is an immigrant and it means so much for me. I
love the way Andrienne Rich compared the port of entry to the door and
giving an alternative to the immigrants to stay or not. The most important
line that I think is the one that says "If you go through there is always
the risk of remembering your name" because during 1920's when people
immigrated from Europe, US used to change their names for a reason that
they couldn't prounce their names. I dont think that was a good act because
changing names is bad, its so hard for them that they cant even remember
their name.
Tarun, 14

Tarun from United States
Comment 7 of 121, added on January 16th, 2006 at 8:47 PM.

this peom was awsum it provided me with alot of detail about multi rasism
acts and help me along with my essay:)..

John from Greece
Comment 6 of 121, added on October 27th, 2005 at 2:41 PM.

Comment number four states that Adrienne Rich was jewish, which is not quit
correct. Her father was jewish but she defined herself over the female
line. So she was raised by her family after christian beliefs. And also why
should she not have white roots, she definetly is white in the first place,
if her belief is christian or jewish is a second thing.
Nevertheless one has to acknowledge that at a point in her life she faced
her partly jewish roots (see essay: split at the root), so this poem could
deal with jews or any people considered the 'other' immigrating to another
country or just having the guts to open the door and not knowing what is
behind. Also the poem focus on the question of identity: is it possible to
live in a country and stick to your own beliefs which may not be the
beliefs of the majority. With opening the door Rich could also refer to
herself when she opened the door and acknoledged that she is a lesbian not
knowing what the consequences would be.

Kathrin from Germany
Comment 5 of 121, added on February 7th, 2005 at 7:50 PM.

I believe that comment #4 above is most appropriate.
However there is still a door! There are not many legal doors any more
anywhere else! A door without any promise is better than none!!

Rao from United States
Comment 4 of 121, added on February 2nd, 2005 at 12:58 PM.

I think the above reading is way off. Adrienne Rich never had to look
seriously at her "white roots" because she didn't have them; she was
Jewish. And maintaining attitudes is not cast in a negative context, but
listed with living worthily - she implies that it is good.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Remembering one's name - the antithesis of assimilation. To remember one's
name is to remember tribal affiliations, family, and origin. This was
especially true for Jewish immigrants, who went from using the Hebraic
construct "Yitzhak ben Ya'akov" to Isaac (or even Ida) Jacobs.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

Perhaps the difficulty of adapting to a dual perspective, with the mother
culture and the American ideals at conflict.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position

First generation American Jews found it very difficult to live according to
tradition; America gave them the freedom to assimilate, and most welcomed
it. It was much easier to follow strict rules in the European ghettos,
where keeping Mosaic Laws was the norm.

to die bravely

In pogroms, wars, and gas chambers - the eventual ends of the ones who
stayed behind.

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The Rabbis taught that to immigrate to American was to cease being Jewish;
that their families would assimilate and fade away in a few generations.
Many, many families stayed in Europe because of this, and often only part
of a family would come over. This strikes me as another of her poems
heavily influnced by the Holocaust - people stayed behind so they wouldn't
cease to exist as Jews, and were annihilated.

Just my two cents.

Chana from United States
Comment 3 of 121, added on November 22nd, 2004 at 7:39 PM.

Please see "A Promise and a Way of Life: White Anti-Racist Activism" by
Becky Thompson for some great analysis of this poem. Thompson takes it to
be referring to the choice faced by white people about whether to go
through the door and take on the struggle against racial prejuduice, as
opposed "to maintain your attitudes/to hold your position". In that
context, the risk of remembering one's name is the very serious risk
inherent in looking honestly at my own white roots, where I might discover
that my ancestors were slave traders or massacred indigenous people at
Wounded Knee.

maggot from Canada
Comment 2 of 121, added on November 17th, 2004 at 9:00 PM.

I have read this poem a number of times and I believe this poem is
about immigrants and how they have a choice to leave their country or not.
The part: "The door makes no promises", I believe means that nobody is
going to promise you that you are going to have a wonderful, joyous life in
the new country, it is only a door, to go through or not to go
through.


Nick Johnson from United States

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Information about Prospective Immigrants Please Note

Poet: Adrienne Rich
Poem: Prospective Immigrants Please Note
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 30459 times
Poem of the Day: May 25 2006


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