Our whole life a translation
the permissible fibs

and now a knot of lies
eating at itself to get undone

Words bitten thru words


meanings burnt-off like paint
under the blowtorch

All those dead letters
rendered into the oppressor’s language

Trying to tell the doctor where it hurts
like the Algerian
who waled form his village, burning

his whole body a could of pain
and there are no words for this

except himself

Analysis, meaning and summary of Adrienne Rich's poem Our Whole Life


  1. Shipra B Cleetus says:

    What does this line mean ” his whole body a could of pain”

  2. Nicholas Stevens says:

    The poem seems to be entirely pessimistic. Memory fades, but pain never dies. The break in the middle reminds one of Dickinson, and of a sort of tradition of darkly philosophical female poets in the English language.

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