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Analysis and comments on Living In Sin by Adrienne Rich

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Comment 17 of 87, added on May 5th, 2010 at 7:52 PM.

This poem is an anti feminist piece that discusses the seven deadly sins
from the bible. The anti feministness comes from the fact that this girl
knowing that her life could be better, but she does nothing to change it.

Most feminist papers portray a woman as helpless and oppressed by men.
While it would appear that she is being oppressed my the "artist", in
reality she causes all of her own pain and trauma.

Three of the seven deadly sins can easily be found here; including gluttony
(the empty bottles), lust (this one is obvious), and sloth (the lack of
effort to keep her apartment or lifestyle clean)

Jeff from United States
Comment 16 of 87, added on April 25th, 2006 at 10:18 AM.

Every critical reader may see the imagery and diction in the words of Rich
that enables the reader to see the woman as the wretch in a life of
irresistible passion but the surface of the poem, including its symbols,
says more to the reader than over analyzing the space between the lines.
The women is the milk, the guy is the milkman. The milk always comes when
expected. The milk is always available. The milkman doesn't have to do
anything exciting to get the milk. The milkman doesn't have to buy to the
cow to get the milk. This milkman gets his milk from a source that works
like a machine that gives him milk when he says "come." The girl is the
"amusing mouse"; the guy is the cat. The mouse is amused by the chase; the
guy chases the mouse by "his urging." This poem is about woman with a
possible Christian background that enjoys her routine life of sinful
passion rather than a routine life of pure loneliness.

~lovely~ from United States
Comment 15 of 87, added on February 22nd, 2006 at 5:15 PM.

The poem is a collection of broken pictures--broken syntactically or
psychologically. Putting them together is to find out the nature of this
relationship. The "sin" is this sort of futile forward momentum they both
are caught up in. The milkman is the coming day or just anothera lover who
might bring the same to the relationship with her as the present one does.
A very depressing piece of aart this!

from United States
Comment 14 of 87, added on November 7th, 2005 at 10:50 PM.

This poem was great. I loved the topic.

fadi shaya from United States
Comment 13 of 87, added on September 2nd, 2005 at 12:19 PM.

This poem isn't just about "foregoing the chores." This poem is a reality
check. First, there's no mention of the two being a married couple, and I
don't believe they are. However, they are living together--a woman with an
artist--and how the realty of living with an artist is completely the
opposite of the woman's romantic fantasy. The house is filthy. The windows
are grimy. There's old food on the countertops. The taps leak. There are
bugs everywhere. The outside stairs are creaky. The artist himself, an
unshaven slob, wakes up, taps a few keys on the piano and goes to buy
cigarettes while the woman realizes her ideal (the "artist cliches" like a
bowl of pears, a Persian rug and the house somehow keeping itself) is just
a lie. The end of the poem--"..throughout the night she woke sometimes to
feel the daylight coming like a relentless milkman up the stairs"--is her
gradual realization that these romantic dreams of living with an artist are
absolutely wrong.


Kenny from United States
Comment 12 of 87, added on August 21st, 2005 at 1:34 PM.

I am looking for information on a poet from early 1900's. May have done
some work for or with Victor C. Anderson artist and Alfred S. Campbell Art
Co. I am also looking for more information on Alfred S. Campbell Art Co.
Possibly all come out of New Jersey area. Elizabeth NJ perhaps? In
particular, I am looking for the date of poem called "Losted" by Burges
Johnson. Thank you.

Lonnie from United States
Comment 11 of 87, added on August 21st, 2005 at 12:27 PM.

With anxiety and some precaution, Adrienne Rich presents an image with
multiple meanings. Her ability to present thoughts in such a precise manner
allows the reader to envision possible interpretations and, yet, to focus,
finally, on the main point she makes: A woman bound to her husband feels,
by forces beyond her control, the need of a frequent visitor.

Rich, with delicate hints, enters the evil which encompasses the sin
insinuated throughout the poem. The reader stands aside with the
“approacher” and peeks in through grimey panes. He does his bidding and
departs, leaving the woman but a memory to recognize him when he comes
again. Meanwhile the husband’s unaware figure is present and then is not.
The woman must make haste of what she has formed--an evil dust on “the
furniture of love.”

A boiling pot of coffee on the stove signifies normalcy, but the woman is
caught in a twister of emotions. Mate or milkman? Two different loves
overwhelm her. Only one steals her from her slumber. She is controlled by
lustful demons she does not wish to rebuke. In a battle of soul and flesh,
Rich emphasizes the dominance of the flesh in a story, unfortunately, too
commonly known.

haoraniscool from United States
Comment 10 of 87, added on August 20th, 2005 at 5:16 PM.

This poem is a shear masterpiece in its own time, depicting early 1960 life
in Shippawee, Illinois, where it was considered illegal to be living
together without a marriage license. The boldness of the poem, the actions
of the characters, the cheese and empty bottles, paints the clearest
picture of the hardships of this troubling time period.

Stanselmon from United States
Comment 9 of 87, added on April 23rd, 2005 at 10:03 PM.

This poem represents a woman who has to live with the consequences of bad
choices made soley on desire over logic. She sees the real and does nothing
about it. The title of the poem relates to the time this poem was written.
IN the 1950's, to live with someone of the opposite sex and not be married
was looked down on.She was so excited to move in with this slob of a man
that she was willing to settle for less.For her, a new day is one of
emotional pain.She moved in only at his "urging" but he never made any
promises so in a way she deserves what she gets.

Mark from United States
Comment 8 of 87, added on December 5th, 2004 at 3:29 PM.

The poem address the discrepancies in the "ideal" of love and the reality
in which Rich's characters are living. It is obvious that the woman longs
for the picture which was "risen at his urging" but instead is disappointed
by the their actual situation. At night the couple can indulge in romantic
endeavors but the rising of the day always sheds light on reality. The
characters are "living in sin" among false and fallen hopes.

Amie from United States

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Information about Living In Sin

Poet: Adrienne Rich
Poem: Living In Sin
Year: 1955
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 1436 times
Poem of the Day: Sep 3 2009


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