The Dream of a Common Language Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
The Dream of a Common Language The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
3,257 ratings, 4.32 average rating, 196 reviews
Open Preview
The Dream of a Common Language Quotes (showing 1-17 of 17)
“Power


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
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power. ”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“I choose to love this time for once
with all my intelligence

-from "Splittings”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“the phantom of the man-who-would-understand,
the lost brother, the twin ---

for him did we leave our mothers,
deny our sisters, over and over?

did we invent him, conjure him
over the charring log,

nights, late, in the snowbound cabin
did we dream or scry his face

in the liquid embers,
the man-who-would-dare-to-know-us?

It was never the rapist:
it was the brother, lost,

the comrade/twin whose palm
would bear a lifeline like our own:

decisive, arrowy,
forked-lightning of insatiate desire

It was never the crude pestle, the blind
ramrod we were after:

merely a fellow-creature
with natural resources equal to our own.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“Origins and History of Consciousness

III.

It’s simple to wake from sleep with a stranger,
dress, go out, drink coffee,
enter a life again. It isn’t simple
to wake from sleep into the neighborhood
of one neither strange nor familiar
whom we have chosen to trust. Trusting, untrusting,
we lowered ourselves into this, let ourselves
downward hand over hand as on a rope that quivered
over the unsearched…. We did this. Conceived
of each other, conceived each other in a darkness
which I remember as drenched in light.
I want to call this, life.

But I can’t call it life until we start to move
beyond this secret circle of fire
where our bodies are giant shadows flung on a wall
where the night becomes our inner darkness, and sleeps
like a dumb beast, head on her paws, in the corner.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“The longer I live the more I mistrust
theatricality, the false glamour cast
by performance, the more I know its poverty beside
the truths we are salvaging from
the splitting-open of our lives.

-from "Transcendental Etude”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan and Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces they had ranged against us,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“but from here on
I want more crazy mourning, more howl, more keening

-from "A Woman Dead in Her Forties”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
This is what I am: watching the spider
rebuild - "patiently", they say,

but I recognise in her
impatience - my own-

the passion to make and make again
where such unmaking reigns

the refusal to be a victim
we have lived with violence so long

Am I to go on saying
for myself, for her

This is my body,
take it and destroy it?

Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“Pictures form and dissolve in my head:
we are walking in a city
you fled, came back to and come back to still
which I saw once through winter frost
years back, before I knew you,
before I knew myself.
We are walking streets you have by heart from childhood
streets you have graven and erased in dreams:
scrolled portals, trees, nineteenth century statues.
We are holding hands so I can see
everything as you see it
I follow you into your dreams
your past, the places
none of us can explain to anyone.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“No one who survives to speak
new language, has avoided this:
the cutting-away of an old force that held her
rooted to an old ground
the pitch of utter loneliness
where she herself and all creation
seem equally dispersed, weightless, her being a cry
to which no echo comes or can ever come.

But in fact we were always like this,
rootless, dismembered: knowing it makes the difference.
Birth stripped our birthright from us,
tore us from a woman, from women, from ourselves
so early on
and the whole chorus throbbing at our ears
like midges, told us nothing, nothing
of origins, nothing we needed
to know, nothing that could re-member us.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed

the blueprint to a life

It is a presence
it has a history a form

Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“If I could let you know -
two women together is a work
nothing in civilization ha made simple,
two people together is a work
heroic in its ordinariness,
the slow-picked, halting traverse of a pitch
where the fiercest attention becomes routine
- look at the faces of those who have chosen it.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“how can I reconcile this passion
with our modesty

your calvinist heritage
my girlhood frozen into forms

how can I go on this mission
without you

you, who might have told me
everything you feel is true?
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“We stayed mute and disloyal
because we were afraid

I would have touched my fingers
to where your breasts had been
but we never did such things”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“and they still control the world, and you are not in my arms.”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
“You’ve kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone…
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity”
Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

All Quotes
Quotes By Adrienne Rich
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game