Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Adrienne Rich's poem Power


  1. Dave says:

    Um, Marie Curie discovered Radium, which while radioactive, isn’t used in atomic bombs (Uranium and Plutonium are), and yes the poem is about her, on the surface, but it’s also about what everyone else said, and probably about what everyone else will say.

  2. laura says:

    Ok sorry but your both wrong! This a a potical poem that deals with a woman haveing to prove herself in a male dominated sociaty. Rich feels empathy for Marie because she to had to deal with hard times (“Winters of this climate”) As she to knows what it feels like being a female poet when it was dominated by man (See “The Roofwalker”). Marie Over exposes herself to the radiation to prove herself to men. Rich end this poem in a pesstimistic tone. She is dissapointed that Marie had to die to prove herself

  3. Mille says:

    No, no, no. This is all about the feminist paradox. Rich was someone who was very aware of two separate roles of a feminist; protecting the “sacred gift” of creation, and fighting opression. In order for Rich to feel that she was truly a woman, she needed to have children. But this meant that, in the 60’s at least, she would have to become domesticated. She considered this a fate worse than death, because she could not use her brilliant mind. Marie Curie’s cause of death ironically came from the same source as her power…purification of radiation. Rich is using this as a complex metaphor, saying that all women “die” from the source or their power; motherhood.

  4. Wilder says:

    I think this is a wonderful poem. I think it shows that no matter what your physical conditon your mind has the power to tell you other wise. This may be a bad thing or a good thing.

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