Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers, a poem by Adrienne Rich.

Post 661 - Adrienne Cecile Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and feminist. She was considered one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century, and was credited with bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse. In 1971, she was the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. She also was awarded the Ruth Paul Lilly Poetry Prize in 1986, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters from NYU, and the National Poetry Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Art of Poetry in 1989. In 1997, Rich declined the National Medal of Arts in protesting against the House of Representatives’ vote to end the National Endowment for the Arts as well as other policies of the Clinton Administration regarding the arts generally and literature in particular. In 2002, she was appointed a chancellor of the newly augmented board of the Academy of American Poets. She was the winner of the 2003 Yale Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich.

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

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