Far back when I went zig-zagging
through tamarack pastures
you were my genius, you
my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
lion-heart king in prison.
Years later now you’re young

my fierce half-brother, staring
down from that simplified west
your breast open, your belt dragged down
by an oldfashioned thing, a sword
the last bravado you won’t give over
though it weighs you down as you stride

and the stars in it are dim
and maybe have stopped burning.
But you burn, and I know it;
as I throw back my head to take you in
and old transfusion happens again:
divine astronomy is nothing to it.

Indoors I bruise and blunder
break faith, leave ill enough
alone, a dead child born in the dark.
Night cracks up over the chimney,
pieces of time, frozen geodes
come showering down in the grate.

A man reaches behind my eyes
and finds them empty
a woman’s head turns away
from my head in the mirror
children are dying my death
and eating crumbs of my life.

Pity is not your forte.
Calmly you ache up there
pinned aloft in your crow’s nest,
my speechless pirate!
You take it all for granted
and when I look you back

it’s with a starlike eye
shooting its cold and egotistical spear
where it can do least damage.
Breath deep! No hurt, no pardon
out here in the cold with you
you with your back to the wall.

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


  1. Lauren says:

    Adrienne Rich is a brilliant poet, no doubt about that. But after reading a lot of her work and seeing some biographical information on her the poem really makes me wonder about her position when writing it. At one point, I know, she was struggling with her husband. This poem leads me to believe that her struggles with her husband are an interpretation so I almost have a negative connotation to give the peice. The writing itself is awe inspiring, but the content, I feel at least, could have a double meaning.

  2. Jay says:

    That is the truth. I, like her, have no idea what it means. Why don’t you explain it to us?

  3. Brandon says:

    You respond to this poem as though it has made u realize something you’ve never seen before. It enriches your life yet you offer no explanation why, no evidence. So what that it makes the birds chirp for you? All you have shown is that you don’t understand the full meaning of the poem…..

  4. Tanya says:

    After reading this very deep poem, it took my breath away. Every morning before I eat breakfast or brush my teeth, i read this poem. It opens my eyes to the blooming flowers and brightness of the sun. The birds then begin to chirp and fulfill my ear drums. At this point of my morning I am in heaven. Thank you

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