“At Long Last First”: Adrienne Rich’s Dark Fields and Samuel Beckett’s Colorless Cliff

  • Barbara L. Estrin


In the 1991 An Atlas of the Difficult World, Rich’s Laura-Medusa haunts the poet, crashing through the restrictive wall at the edge of the form to challenge its defining mechanisms. Four years later, in the 1995 Dark Fields of the Republic, the still-troubled poet moves from the center she herself inhabits and implodes the form from within. Tinkering with the characteristic oxymoron, Rich shifts the balance from the “either/or” of the conventional impossibilia, to the “both/and” of her revisionism. The new poetic she evolves seems more attuned to the marginalized and to the anxieties of post—World War II reality. As Rich’s recent work inclines more deeply inward, she also moves more courageously backward to reassess her prewar life, to the thirties that fed into the forties and to the culture that shaped her.


Dark Field Preventive Detention Dark Ground Dyadic Structure Love Poem 
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Copyright information

© Barbara L. Estrin 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara L. Estrin
    • 1
  1. 1.Stonehill CollegeUSA

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