Karen Alkalay-Gut


The muse of poetry, the "goddess," who deals with the "source and nature of imaginative energy" (Carruthers, 295), the woman whose inspiration creates a heightened sense of aesthetic awareness and intensity and to whom the poem is initially addressed, takes on very different characteristics when the poet is herself a women. For although there may be a similar sense of inspiration, the female muse is either a spiritual guide who uses the poet as a medium ("Sing, Muse, and through me tell the story..."), a passive woman who will become immortalized through her idealization in verse ("Thou shall shine more bright in these contents/ than unswept stone ..."), or an indifferent beloved whose unresponsiveness encourages poetic expression (the living Maud Gonne, the dead Annabel Lee). In tune with the monologic nature of lyric poetry, positive inspiration by the traditional muse depends upon her silence and passivity, and at times her unwillingness to respond or even listen. W.B. Yeats repeatedly asserted that all of his work was written only to make the indifferent Maud Gonne understand and therefore love him:

That had she done so who can say

What would have shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away

And been content to live.

(p. 90)

There is a difference in the effect between men and women muses, however. The silence of a female muse is usually encouraging and enabling, a fertile space for the male poet to fill. The silence of the muse for a woman writer may be often crippling and rejecting. When Ernest Dowson writes: "I would not alter thy cold eyes," he asserts that the woman's very unresponsiveness elicits within himself an even greater response. Poe's idea of the death of the beautiful woman as the ideal subject for poetry is linked to this. The death of the woman allows him the opportunity to speak at length - this can be most amusingly seen in his "Raven" in which the speaker mourns at length while the raven, the beloved's "messenger," has only one word, the famous "Nevermore."

But when Sylvia Plath perceives silence in those to whom she writes, it is usually threatening or rejecting - The silent people to whom she speaks are - the mother, a stone man, an ominous black-garbed figure, a threatening rival. These stone men are common figures in women's poetry. Sexton's "Eighteen Days Without You," for example, has an image of a stone man whose mouth is "sewn like a seam." (p. 206). This may, in part, be connected to the historical dependence of women upon the approbation of a man.

Alternatively, the silence of the implied muse is the source of a kind of artificial impotent speech, or a modest silence, created to win favor and reinforce the nonconfrontational female stereotype. The title of Adrienne Rich's early poem, "An Unsaid Word," reflects this enforced silence in relation to "her man" in the poem.

She who has power to call her man

From that estranged intensity

Where his mind forages alone,

Yet keeps her pace and leaves him free,

And when his thoughts to her return

Stands where he left her, still his own,

Knows this the hardest thing to learn.

The silence of the muse is counter-productive for the woman writer because her ideal goal is likely to be communication rather than self-expression. And when communication is frustrated it may lead to a sense of isolation. Denise Levertov's "Poet and Person," illustrates this:

I send my messages ahead of me.

You read them, they speak to you

in siren tongues, ears of flame


But soon you love me less.

I brought with me

too much, too many laden coffers . . .

my desire to please, and worse -

my desire to judge what is right.

. . .

When I leave, I leave

alone, as I came.

The "person," the audience, is the initial object of contact, but ultimately becomes the source of frustration. Even though the poet has been inspired by her audience, her failure to ultimately be understood results in loneliness and a sense of inadequacy. Elsewhere the frustration of this communication leads to self-blame or anger.

Attempts to counter the overwhelming presence of the male inspiration can be seen throughout women's poetry. Elizabeth Barrett Browning may, in some poems, find it necessary to denigrate the self in the face of the other (perhaps because of her greater success as a poet than her younger husband), but Edna St. Vincent Millay achieves the opposite effect. By treating men overtly the way women had been treated covertly, Millay negates the power of the muse. "I shall forget you presently, my dear," the first line of one of her sonnets, is a powerful tactic to divest the muse of its eternal power.

I shall forget you presently, my dear,

So make the most of this, your little day,

Your little month, your little half a year,

Ere I forget, or die, or move away,

And we are done forever; by and by

I shall forget you, as I said, but now,

If you will entreat me with your loveliest lie

I will protest you with my favorite vow.

I would indeed that love were longer-lived,

And oaths were not so brittle as they are,

But so it is, and nature has contrived

To struggle on without a break this far, -

Whether or not we find what we are seeking

Is idle, biologically speaking.

Many of Sylvia Plath's poems reverberate with both self denial and anger, but Diane Wakowski's dedication in The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems (1971) focusses on externalizing the anger:

This book is dedicated to all those men who betrayed me at one time or another, in hopes they will fall off their motorcycles and break their necks.

Even the externalization of frustrated anger here can be perceived as an attempt at communication, but the humor is primarily based on the relief at the expression of pent-up fury.

Despite the release this kind of anger provides, there are obvious limitations to the poetry that can be written from this perspective, and the women poets of the sixties and seventies consciously attempted to evolve from this limitation. Many women poets who found their first inspiration in the men guiding their lives, exhibit a reversal in later work, as many women turn to other women for more positive direction.

Anne Sexton, who began writing in this earlier period, addressed many of her poems to her doctors, her lovers, her poetic teachers, and perceived them as inspiration and direction for her own life. This tendency continued throughout her career. From "You, Doctor Martin," to "Words for Dr. Y.," Sexton continued to seek justification and approval in her poetry from men, and many of her poems are responses to them. There are numerous poems such as "You All Know the Story of the Other Woman," which deny her very existence in the absence of his acceptance. "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife," for example, ends a long description in praise of the wife with the lines: "As for me, I am a watercolor./ I wash off." (CP, 190)

Women, on the other hand, furnished her with real relationships which gave her joy and pain, but not usually validated critical direction. Her poems to her daughters and mother generally work toward trying to understand the relationship or the failure of the other to fulfill her part of the relationship rather than performing as a poet in order to meet with their approval. "Song for a Lady" is one that deal with what appears a successful relationship with a nurturing nurse:

On the day of breasts and small hips

the window pocked with bad rain,

rain coming in like a minister,

we coupled, so sane and insane.

We lay like spoons while the sinister

rain dropped like flies on our lips

and our glad eyes and our small hips.

"The room is so cold with rain," you said

and you, feminine you, with your flower

said novenas to my ankles and elbows.

You are a national product and power.

Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,

even a notary would notarize our bed

as you knead me and I rise like bread. (CP, 204)

This nurturing by womeseems to be true despite the fact that Sexton's poetic career was initially curtailed by her mother's accusation - apparently justifiable - that Sexton had plagiarized her work from Sara Teasdale. Poems written to her daughters offer herself to some extent as muse, as direction for their futures. But woman-as-muse apparently does not operate on a professional-poetic level, since Sexton's continuous workshopping with Maxine Kumin created the poems directed so frequently to male readers. Women might have been of considerable personal and professional importance, but were conceived in the poetry to have primarily a nurturing value. The burden of her sense of failure as a poet is in the failure to convince the male muse of her worth - poetic and otherwise.

For Sexton and Plath, the situation is closed: men don't work as muses because they repress and betray, and women don't work as muses because they are too insignificant to elevate and inspire. But the need for inspiration, respect and audience, seems to remain, and in the conscious self-evolvement of the poetry of Adrienne Rich, the progress of the muse in the past decades can be most clearly seen.

The development of Rich's poetry, so clearly specified in the chronologically delineated selections from Rich's complete works in Selected Poems and The Fact of a Doorframe, may be used as a paradigm, since it reveals the poet's own initial dependence upon the men in her life for inspiration and approval as well as her growing freedom from her father, her husband, her male teachers and critics, to find the source of her power in her relationships with women, and later, within herself. Rich, who began to write in the same decade as Sexton, began also with a similar need for masculine approval. Rich has recently noted:

. . . for about twenty years I wrote for a particular man, who criticized and praised me and made me feel I was indeed 'special.' The obverse side of this, of course, was that I tried for a long time to please/ him, or rather, not to displease him. And then of course there were other men - writers, teachers - the Man, who was not a terror or a dream but a literary master and a master in other ways less easy to acknowledge. ("When We Dead Awaken," On Lies, 38-9).

The public reinforcement of this attitude to Rich is well known. W.H. Auden's introduction to her first book, A Change of World, makes clear that by "minding her elders" Rich became acceptable as a young woman poet.

Rich's discussion of the influence of men in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Diane Wakowski makes clear the second step of the development of her relationship to the 'male muse' in poetry:

It strikes me that in the work of both [Plath and Wakowski] Man appears as, if not a dream, a fascination and a terror, and that the source of the fascination and the terror is, simply, Man's power - to dominate, tyrannize, choose, or reject the woman. The charisma of Man seems to come purely from his power over her and his control of the world by force, not from anything fertile or life-giving in him. ("When We Dead Awaken, On Lies, 36)

For many women poets, the turning to women as inspiration and audience is a conscious and decisive step. Marge Piercy affirms the necessity of liberation from men for the sake of identity: "You look to men for salvation and every year/ finds you more helpless." ("Crescent Moon Like a Canoe," Circles, 278). Marilyn Hacker turns from men in the crucial poem of Taking Notice, (a book which traces the development from heterosexuality to homosexuality almost chronologically), "Why We Are Going Back to Paradise Island:"

You wanted him to praise you and make you real.

I wanted to hear about his childhood.

We wanted him to love us. (Taking Notice, 75)

Rich's own poem, "Trying to Talk with a Man" also illustrates this decision.


Out in this desert we are testing bombs,

that's why we came here.

Sometimes I feel an underground river

forcing its way between deformed cliffs

an acute angle of understanding

moving itself like a locus of the sun

into this condemned scenery.

. . . . . .. .

Out here I feel more helpless

with you than without you

You mention the danger

and list the equipment

we talk of people caring for each other

in emergencies - laceration, thirst -

but you look at me like an emergency

Your dry heat feels like power

your eyes are stars of a different magnitude

they reflect lights that spell out: EXIT

when you get up and pace the floor

talking of the danger

as if it were not ourselves

as if we were testing anything else.

Marge Piercy, Alta, Adrienne Rich, Marilyn Hacker and many women poets publicly and poetically announced their shift of muse to their female lovers, and this shift is more than a reflection of their sexual preference. It is also an attempt to alter the constellation of relationships, and this alteration is accomplished through the transformation of the muse.

So much of modern poetry is concerned with the expression of self, and the strong expression of a powerful self is considered particularly praiseworthy ("Find your own voice!" must be the first command of most poetry workshops). The value of this subject of the self as a basic assumption. But women's poetry is often concerned not with the self but the self in relation to an other, just as in conversation. So the muse for women is not one who gives inspiration for a task, but a potential listener who will be affected, perhaps even changed by the communication.

Yet the woman's muse is built on a different model that does not emphasize the development of self as much as the creation and maintenance of positive relationships. There are other conditioned reactions, tendencies to continue the same patriarchal approaches even when the sex of the 'other' is different. With telling irony, Pat Parker's "For Willyce" (which gives the title itself to the 'other') complains about

this 'conditioning' in a literal situation:

When i make love to you

i try

with each stroke of my tongue

to say i love you

to tease i love you

to hammer i love you

to melt i love you

& your sounds drift down

oh god!

oh jesus!

and I think -

here it is, some dude's

getting credit for what

a woman

has done,

again. (Amazon, 73)

The attempt at an erotic dialogue here is foiled by the 'other's' literary preconceptions, and yet the subject is the ideal concept of a dialogue. "Trying to enter each other," as Marge Piercy describes it in "Doing it Differently." Rich herself explores some of the difficulties of creating a non-patriarchal constellation in a patriarchal society. In the midst of a series of same-sex love poems, for example, the violent, destructive world of men intrudes to such an extent that though the speaker begins full of love and hope, she ends:

And my incurable anger, my unmendable wounds

break open further with tears, I am crying helplessly,

and they still control the world, and you are not in my arms.

The ideal of the woman-muse is to open poetry from its closed, imperative monologue to a dialogue between poet and other (muse). Mary Carruthers, writing of the muse of Rich, Olga Broumas, Audre Lourde and others, notes: "Their relationship is not one of possession but of communal bonding. This myth seeks to recreate and remember wholeness, not through the domination of an Other which complements a gap or lack in the Self (as in Plato's egg myth, or the Oriental myth of Yin and Yang), but through a meeting of familiars which recalls a completeness that is present but forgotten or suppressed by history." Numerous love poems reflect the desire of Adrienne Rich to open lines of communication rather than to draw inspiration. Her "21 Love Poems," first published in 1978, is a form of sonnet sequence which attempts to describe the progress of love on the part of both lovers. The language of the "other" enters into the poems, directing and shaping them. The ninth poem, which deals with the "silence" of the other, reiterates much of the frustrated communication perceived inprevious women poets, but voices an awareness of and an attempt to cope with these issues. It begins:

Your silence today is a pond where drowned things live

I want to see raised dripping and brought into the sun.

But this silence is not a mirror for the self nor does it reject the speaker, condemning her to silence, as it does in earlier poems, such as the significantly titled, "An Unsaid Word." Instead, this silence provokes a reaching out.

It's not my own face I see there, but other faces,

even your face at another age.

Whatever's lost there is needed by both of us --


I fear this silence,

this inarticulate life.

The reaction to silence is neither angry nor depressed: the speaker moves toward the other, and the "others" who have been affected by this other as well. In the transformation of muse to a nurturing, potentially communicative being, Rich's function as a poet becomes to help to overcome the unhappy alienation of the other in her silence. And in the process, the almost inevitable egocentricism of poetry is transcended. As a result, the poetry reaches beyond itself and the poem concludes:

I'm waiting

for a wind that will gently open this sheeted water

for once, and show me what I can do

for you, who have often made the unnameable

nameable for others, even for me.

Later in the same series, Rich notes, "that detail outside ourselves that brings us to ourselves,/ was here before us, knew we would come, and sees beyond us." Seeing "beyond us" is one of the results of the productive dialogue, a result that can be observed in the consequent unfolding of Rich's subject matter.

That this hunger is not confined to Rich's poetry, but appears in many aspects of anti-patriarchal writing is apparent every where. One example is from Jane Gallop's "Reading the Mother Tongue: Psychoanalytic Feminist Criticism": "At its best, psychoanalytic feminist criticism is teaching us not how to speak the mother tongue, not only how to see the mother as other and not mirror, but how to read the other within the mother tongue."

The later poetry of Rich not dealing with love is imbued with the influence of same-sex democratic dialogue: women from history "and all those without names" speak -- sometimes in their own voice -- and are answered. A 1980 poem entitled "Mother-in-Law" is an attempted dialogue between the two women Rich had exemplified in a famous earlier poem as bound only by the man with whom both are connected, a woman whose failed life could be understood by the daughter-in-law, and explained, but not empathized with. In "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law," written in 1960 , there was, ultimately, no communication between the women, but in this later poem the daughter-in-law attempts to go beyond their standard patterned relationship, to tell the truth, and more significantly, to be directed by the older woman's needs. When the older woman asks, "Tell me something," at the end of the poem, the daughter responds:

Mother-in-law, before we part

shall we try again? Strange as I am,

strange as you are? What do mothers

ask their own daughters, everywhere in the world?

Is there a question?

Ask me something.

This discourse concurs with feminist psychoanalytic theories of the pre-oedipal union with Mother, but also insists on the mother as "other," as a potential individual with whom relationships are possible. This is something Rich complained was impossible with her own mother in an earlier work. In Of Woman Born, Rich writes "It is hard to write about my own mother, Whatever I do write, it is my story I am telling, my version of the past,. If she were to tell her own story other landscapes would be revealed. But in my landscape or hers, there would be old, smoldering patches of deep-burning anger." This distance, it should be emphasized, is absolutely necessary for communication: without the need to explain and understand, there can be no muse, no inspiration. The "prelapsarian preoedipal" state, pointed out by Naomi Schor, emphasizes a union, but unity, as has been demonstrated by N.O. Brown, Martin Buber, and many others, negates the possibility of communication and/or language.

The idea of communication opens up other channels as well. Not only do those former enemies become potential muses, but women from history can be responded to and questioned, can inspire the poem and its progress. It is no accident that a poem entitled "Heroines" succeeds "Mother-in-Law" and is followed by one called "Grandmothers," because a reciprocative relationship can be created with the inspiration of historical characters and maternal ancestors only after it has been learned and demonstrated in love and other intimacies. In her historical poems, written in the second person to women of previous generations (and employing their language as well), Rich has learned to use the muse, to describe the lives of others and to interrelate with their words and their lives in an attempt to learn from them, to move forward to ideas of more viable lives for women of the future.

The muse in this context need not be perfect or ideal, but may be any human being whose behavior can be evaluated for the purpose of progression, for learning how to live as women. The writer Ellen Glasgow, who promised to teach her slave-nurse to read but never fulfilled her promise, for example, can be criticized but not condemned for irresponsibility:

It's not enough

Using your words to damn you, Ellen:

they could have been my own:

This recognition of muse as having human potential for interchange has long range effects - not only is the 'other' affected by it, but also the perception of reality - "the world as it is," - and the self as well: "Ourselves as we are in these painful motions//of staying cognizant."

"Frame," which follows this attempt to accept reality and others, has the speaker identify with a victimized black woman, despite the fact that society (and contemporary literary convention) denies the possibility of this identity, and might even perceive Rich's use of the muse as typical of general social exploitation. She concludes the poems with:

What I am telling you

is told by a white woman who they will say

was never there. I say I am there.

This identification with the other, this use of an other as subject, as inspiration may seem to be a regression, an approach resembling the old patriarchal muse model originally rejected -- of a remote figure with whom there is no connection, which functions as only a sounding block for the feelings of the poet -- but Rich is careful to assert the contrary. "I say I am there."

The awareness of the dangers of imposing the self upon the others, of projecting an internal vision upon a 'muse,' is repeatedly acknowledged.

False history gets made all day, any day,

and by some who should know better:

the lesbian archeologist watches herself

sifting her own life out from the shards she's piecing,

asking the clay all questions but her own.

This kind of recognition is parallel to the tortuous attempts of the poet to make a genuine connection with other women in history and the many kinds of contemporary societies, to really understand their lot: "To understand colonization," she writes, "is taking me/ years." It is also parallel with the understanding that the muse that lies in others is also something of an illusory projection of the self: that the real muse is and has always been within the poet and should be acknowledged. Writing earlier of Plath and Wakowski, Rich noted: "it is finally the woman's sense of herself - embattled, possessed - that gives the poetry its dynamic charge, in rhythms of struggle, need, will, and female energy." The self as source of power and inspiration can be seen in many other recent poets. Enid Dame's Lilith begins her series of monologues with the assertion, "Kicked myself out of paradise."

In the past decade, Rich attempts to embody this concept of the self. In "Sources," Rich responds to the invocational lines from Psalms, ("I lift up mine eyes to the mountains, from whence help will come,") affirming the divinity of this internal muse with its original definition as spiritual inspiration:

I refuse to become a seeker for cures.

Everything that has ever

helped me has come through what already

lay stored in me. Old things, diffuse, unnamed, lie strong

across my heart.

This is from where

my strength comes, even when I miss my strength

even when it turns on me

like a violent master.

This is similar in principle to Robert Graves' idea that the woman poet must be her own muse, the concept in object-relations that ". . .. [the mother] . . . is the mirror where the infant can find his or her subjectivity." and Anne Sexton's theoretical idea that "A woman is her mother/ That's the main thing."


Some women marry houses.

It's another kind of skin; it has a heart,

a mouth, a liver and bowel movements.

The walls are permanent and pink.

See how she sits on her knees all day,

faithfully washing herself down.

Men enter by force, drawn back like Jonah

into their fleshy mothers.

A woman is her mother.

That's the main thing.

Here the woman has become her own muse, her own mother, empowering


As Irigary and others point out, it is necessary to learn to love the mother again before women can find their identity. But once mothers have been accepted, and the self discovered, it is also possible to go beyond the mother - to use what has been learned from the new maternal relationships and to apply this knowledge to other muses.

This is perhaps the most amazing aspects of this muse-shift. By learning to open dialogues with the mother and to accept the self, poets like Rich have become able to return to their early dialogues with their fathers, and use their new hard-won productive approach.

The muse becomes identified more radically with self in This Native Land, Your Life (1986), a far less communicative work than Rich's middle women-directed works, precisely because it moves inward. Though she writes to her father, her late husband, the strength and inspiration is no longer from the other:

For years I struggled with you: your categories, your theories, your will, the cruelty which came inextricable from your love. For years all arguments I carried on in my head were with you. .. After your death I met you again as the face of patriarchy, could name at last precisely the principle you embodied, there was an ideology at last which let me dispose of you, identify the suffering you caused, hate you righteously as part of a system, the kingdom of the fathers. I saw the power and arrogance of the male as your true watermark; I did not see beneath it the suffering of the Jew, the alien stamp you bore, because you had deliberately arranged that it should be invisible to me. It is only, under a powerful, womanly lens, that I can decipher your suffering and deny no part of my own.

In this section Rich clearly makes an effort to break through the barrier of self - even that erected by the father - to get to him: I saw myself, the eldest daughter raised as a son, taught to study but not to pray, taught to hold reading and writing sacred: the eldest daughter in a house with no son, she who must overthrow the father, take what he taught her and use it against him. All this in a castle of air, the floating world of the assimilated who know and deny they will always be aliens.

This "powerful, womanly lens" allows for an amazing strength to perceive others, not as ideals or devils, but as simple human beings, to achieve "inspiration" from real people, and the possibility of real communication that transcends the stereotypes that patriarchal self-expression demands. Number XXII of the same sequence, addressed to her late husband, is a moving testimonial of this:

I have resisted this for years, writing to you as if you could hear me. It's been different with my father: he and I always had a kind of rhetoric going with each other . . . But, you, I've had a sense of protecting your existence, not using it merely as a theme for poetry or tragic muses; letting you dwell in the minds of those who have reason to miss you, in your way, or their way, not mine. The living, writers especially, are terrible projectionists. I hate the way they use the dead. . .

One way of showing the lost distance travelled is to compare poems about fathers of the sixties with those in the nineties: It would be extremely unusual for a poem of the 80's to say, "Daddy, you bastard, I'm through." Instead there is an attempt to come to an understanding with the other, even the other that had been a restricting influence in the past, to open up a dialogue even with the feared father or the rebellious, threatening daughter. Sharon Olds' latest effort, The Father, which obsessively reviews her abusive father's illness and death in an attempt to understand both her father and their relationship, also contains poems spoken by the dead father, entitled "When the Dead Ask My Father about Me," and "My Father Speaks to Me from the Dead," which concludes the work, as if allowing him the last word.

This tolerant attempt to come to understanding with the others, to utilize the muse in powerful socially and poetically positive ways, to open dialogues with feared fathers, threatening daughters and mothers, and bewildering lovers - is the pattern for the muse in recent years, a pattern richly capable of revolutionizing all poetry, and releasing what Rich herself describes (in "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience") as "an energy not only diffuse but, as Audre Lorde described it, omnipresent in 'the sharing of joy.'"

"Her language does not contain. it carries; it does not hold back, it makes possible," says Helene Cixous of the woman writer, and to enable in this way, to open such a dialogue, is the primary strategy of Rich's last two books, Time's Power (1989) and An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991). There are many different muses, different people whose communications inspire the poems, and with her "womanly lens" powerful enough to accept the possibility of failure, Rich explores their otherness, even to the point of including the objections of the others to her, and their negations of her. In the midst of a discussion, the person of whom the poem is written interjects: "Calmly you look over my shoulder at this page and say/ Its all about you None of this/ tells my story." It is at this point, with the rejection by the muse, the acknowledgement of its 'otherness', that Rich surmounts the literary limitation of this concept of inspiration as well as the lonely monologue of poetry.


. In modern times it is possible to discount the muse as literal goddess, simply because there is no equivalent for this phenomenon. With the exception of "Sister Morphine," there are few external, non-human sources for literature. 2. For discussion of this see Cora Kaplan's discussion of Aurora Leigh in "Wicked Fathers: A Family Romance," in Sea Changes: Culture and Feminism. (London: Verso, 1986) 191-213, 205. . 3. Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnet provides a delightful example of this: Oh, oh, you will be sorry for that word! Give me back my book and take my kiss instead. Was it my enemy or my friend I heard, "What a big book for such a little head!" Come, I will show you my newest hat, And you may watch me purse my mouth and prink! Oh, I shall love you still, and all of that. I never again shall tell you what I think. I shall be sweet and crafty, soft and sly; You will not catch me reading any more. I shall be called a wife to pattern by: And some day when you knock and push the door, Some sane day, not too bright and not too stormy, I shall be done, and you may whistle for me. 4. See Deborah Tannen, You Just Don't Understand:Men and Women in Conversation (New York: Morrow, 1990). 5. Despite the joy of mutual nurturing, the game of what she called "Mother-me-do," and the feeling of a productive relationship -- "You knead me, and I rise like bread," (The pun on "need" emphasizes the mutuality of the relationship - it is the need of the Lady that makes the speaker fruitful and fulfilled.) 6. Judy Grahn writes that Pat Parker speaks "on behalf of numberless other people, doing it in the first person." "Introduction," Movement in Black: The Collected Poetry of Pat Parker, 1961-1978. (Trumansburg, N. Y.: Crossing Press, 1983), 13. 7. To Be of Use (New York: Doubleday, 1969), 57. This book of Piercy's in particular is concerned with the search for this different way. 8. Fact of a Doorframe (New York: Norton, 1976), p. 238. 9. Carruthers, 296. 10. Fact, 241. 11. (WV, 530) 12. Fact, 290. 13 Fact, 1958-60, pp. 35-39. 14 (New York: Norton, 1976), p. 180. 15 (M)Other, 223, in Gallop, p. 524. 16 "Education of a Novelist," Fact, p. 317. 17 "Spirit of Place" in Fact, p. 302. 18 Fact, p. 205. 19. "Turning the Wheel" Fact, p. 306. 20 Fact, p. 307. 21. "When We Dead Awaken," OLSS, p. 36. 22. "Lilith," Lilith and Her Demons (New York: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1986), 4. 23. Sources. (Woodside: The Heyeck Press, 1983), p. 10. Reprinted in This Native Land, Your Life (New York: Norton, 1986), p. 4. 24. Louise Bogan quotes this line significantly in Journey Around My Room: The Autobiography of Louise Bogan. by Ruth Limmer and Louise Bogan (New York: Viking Press, 1980), p. 136. 25. Gallop, p. 527. 26. "Housewife," CP, . 27. "Sources VII," Your Native Land, Your Life, p. 9. 28. Native Land, p. 25. 29. The Father (New York: Knopf, 1992). 30. Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985 (New York: Norton, 1986), p. 53. 31. from "The Laugh of the Medusa," in Elaine Marks and Isabel de Courtivron, eds. New French Feminisms (Amherst: University of Mass Press, 1980), p. 260, as quoted by Patricia Yaeger, Honey-Mad Women: Emancipatory Strategies in Women's Writing. (N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1988) 13. Yaeger also points out that Hans Georg Gadamer in Truth and Method, Garrett Barden and John Cummings, eds. and trs. (N.Y: Crossroads, 1984) define conversation as a communicative mode that helps us "break free from outworn vocabularies and attitude." (Yaeger , 253) 32. An Atlas of the Difficult World. (New York: Norton, 1991), p. 19.





Bogan, Louise, and Ruth Limmer, Journey Around My Room: The Autobiography of Louise Bogan. New York: Viking Press, 1980.

Carruthers, Mary J. "The Re-Vision of the Muse: Adrienne Rich,

Audre Lorde, Judy Grahn, Olga Broumas," Hudson Review.

1983 Summer 38 (2).

Dame, Edith. Lilith and Her Demons. New York: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1986.

Gluck, Louise. Ararat. New Jersey: Ecco, 1990.

Grahn, Judy, "Introduction," Movement in Black: The Collected

Poetry of Pat Parker, 1961-1978. Trumansburg, N. Y.:

Crossing Press, 1983.

Hacker, Marilyn. Taking Notice. New York: Knopf, 1980.

Kaplan, Cora. "Wicked Fathers: A Family Romance," in Sea Changes: Culture and Feminism. London: Verso, 1986, 191-213,

Levertov, Denise. "Poet and Person," Candles in Babylon. New

York: New Directions, 1978.

Larkin, Joan, & Elly Bulkin, eds. Amazon Poetry: an Anthology.

Out & Out Books, 1975.

Olds, Sharon. The Father. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Piercy, Marge. Circles on the Water. New York: Knopf, 1982.

Plath, Sylvia. Collected Poems. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1981.

Rich, Adrienne. An Atlas of the Difficult World. New York:

Norton, 1991.

Rich, Adrienne. Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose

1979-1985 New York: Norton, 1986.

Rich, Adrienne. Fact of a Doorframe. New York: Norton, 1976.

Rich, Adrienne. Of Lies, Secrets and Silences: Selected Prose,

1966-1978. New York: Norton, 1979

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born. New York: Norton, 1976.

Rich, Adrienne. Sources. Woodside: The Heyeck Press, 1983.

Rich, Adrienne. This Native Land, Your Life. New York: Norton, 1986.

Rich, Adrienne. Time's Power: Poems 1985-1988. New York: Norton,


Sexton, Anne. Collected Poems. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1981.

Wakowski, Diane. The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems. New York: Simon

& Schuster, 1971.

Yaeger, Patricia. Honey-Mad Women: Emancipatory Strategies in

Women's Writing. New York: Columbia, 1988.

Yeats, W.B. The Poems. New York: MacMillan, 1986.