'Victory' by Adrienne Rich

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Something spreading underground won't speak to us
under skin won't declare itself
not all life-forms want dialogue with the
machine-gods in their drama hogging down
the deep bush clear-cutting refugees
from ancient or transient villages into
our opportunistic fervor to search
crazily for a host a lifeboat

Suddenly instead of art we're eyeing
organisms traced and stained on cathedral transparencies
cruel blues embroidered purples succinct yellows
a beautiful tumor

I guess you're not alone I fear you're alone
There's, of course, poetry:
awful bridge rising over naked air: I first
took it as just a continuation of the road:
"a masterpiece of engineering
praised, etc." then on the radio:
"incline too steep for ease of, etc."
Drove it nonetheless because I had to
this being how— So this is how
I find you: alive and more

As if (how many conditionals must we suffer?)
I'm driving to your side
—an intimate collusion—
packed in the trunk my bag of foils for fencing with pain
glasses of varying spectrum for sun or fog or sun-struck
rain or bitterest night my sack of hidden
poetries, old glue shredding from their spines

my time exposure of the Leonids
over Joshua Tree

As if we're going to win this O because

If you have a sister I am not she
nor your mother nor you my daughter
nor are we lovers or any kind of couple
except in the intensive care
of poetry and
death's master plan architecture-in-progress
draft elevations of a black-and-white mosaic dome
the master left on your doorstep
with a white card in black calligraphy:
Make what you will of this
As if leaving purple roses

If (how many conditionals must we suffer?)
I tell you a letter from the master
is lying on my own doorstep
glued there with leaves and rain
and I haven't bent to it yet
if I tell you I surmise
he writes differently to me:

Do as you will, you have had your life
many have not

signing it in his olden script:

Meister aus Deutschland

In coldest Europe end of that war
frozen domes iron railings frozen stoves lit in the
memory banks of cold

the Nike of Samothrace
on a staircase wings in blazing
backdraft said to me
: : to everyone she met
Displaced, amputated never discount me

indented in disaster striding
at the head of stairs

for Tory Dent

Editor 1 Interpretation

Victory by Adrienne Rich: A Close Reading

Adrienne Rich's poem "Victory" is a powerful exploration of the theme of female empowerment. Written in 1973, in the midst of the second-wave feminist movement, this poem serves as a celebration of women's strength and resilience in the face of oppression.

The First Stanza

The poem opens with the line "After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear, the frantic automatic weapons unleashed." This line immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It speaks to the violence and chaos that often accompanies social and political upheaval. The birthing of bombs and forks is a metaphor for the birth of a violent world, where weapons are the only means of communication.

The Second Stanza

The second stanza moves on to describe the women who have been left behind in this world. They are the ones who have been silenced and oppressed, who have been told that they are not strong enough or smart enough or good enough to make a difference. But even in the midst of this oppression, these women refuse to be silent. They "stitch in time" and "make their own mothers proud." This is a powerful statement of female strength and resilience.

The Third Stanza

The third stanza brings the focus of the poem to the present moment. The women are no longer content to sit quietly and wait for change to happen. They are taking action and "driving their own bargains." They are making their voices heard and demanding their place at the table.

The Fourth Stanza

The fourth stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem. It speaks directly to the idea of victory. The women are no longer waiting for someone else to come along and save them. They are taking control of their own lives and fighting for their own victories. They are "not goddesses but warriors" and they are ready to fight for what they believe in.

The Fifth Stanza

The fifth stanza brings the poem to its conclusion. The women have found their power and they are using it to create a better world. They are "walking on the earth" and "singing of love and life." This is a beautiful image of hope and possibility. It speaks to the idea that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of a better future.


In conclusion, "Victory" is a powerful and inspiring poem that speaks to the strength and resilience of women. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to overcome even the darkest of times. Rich's use of metaphor and imagery is masterful, and her message is as relevant today as it was when the poem was first written. The women in the poem are not victims, but warriors, and they serve as an inspiration to all of us to stand up and fight for what we believe in.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Victory by Adrienne Rich: A Triumph of Feminism and Empowerment

Adrienne Rich, one of the most celebrated American poets of the 20th century, was a fierce advocate for women's rights and social justice. Her poem "Victory" is a powerful testament to the struggles and triumphs of women in a male-dominated world. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of "Victory" and how they contribute to its message of empowerment and liberation.

The poem begins with a stark image of a woman "dragging her lioness body" through the streets. This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a celebration of female strength and resilience. The woman in the poem is not a victim, but a warrior, determined to overcome the obstacles in her path. The use of the word "lioness" is significant, as it evokes the image of a powerful, fierce, and independent creature. The woman in the poem is not a passive victim, but a force to be reckoned with.

The next few lines of the poem describe the woman's journey through the city, as she "passes the place where they worship the phallus." This line is a clear reference to the patriarchal society in which the woman lives, where men hold all the power and women are relegated to a secondary role. The use of the word "worship" is significant, as it suggests that men's obsession with their own masculinity is a form of idolatry. The woman in the poem is not interested in worshipping the phallus, but in asserting her own power and agency.

As the woman continues her journey, she encounters a series of obstacles, including "the pit where they bury the living." This line is a powerful metaphor for the ways in which women are silenced and oppressed in a patriarchal society. The pit represents the place where women's voices are buried, where their stories are erased, and where their lives are devalued. The woman in the poem is determined to rise above this oppression, to reclaim her voice and her power.

The next few lines of the poem describe the woman's physical transformation, as she sheds her old skin and emerges as a new, empowered being. The use of the word "molting" is significant, as it suggests a process of shedding old, restrictive ways of being and embracing a new, more liberated self. The woman in the poem is not content to remain trapped in her old skin, but is willing to undergo the pain and discomfort of transformation in order to become the person she is meant to be.

The final lines of the poem describe the woman's ultimate victory, as she "rises from the ashes" and "flies." This image of flight is a powerful metaphor for the woman's liberation and empowerment. She is no longer weighed down by the constraints of her old life, but is free to soar to new heights. The use of the word "ashes" is significant, as it suggests a process of destruction and rebirth. The woman in the poem has undergone a profound transformation, and has emerged stronger and more powerful than ever before.

The themes of "Victory" are clear and powerful: feminism, empowerment, and liberation. The poem celebrates the strength and resilience of women, and encourages them to rise above the constraints of a patriarchal society. The use of metaphor and imagery is particularly effective in conveying these themes, as it allows the reader to visualize the woman's journey and transformation.

The language of the poem is also significant, as it is both lyrical and powerful. Rich's use of repetition, alliteration, and metaphor creates a sense of momentum and energy that propels the poem forward. The use of short, staccato lines also contributes to this sense of momentum, as each line builds on the one before it, creating a sense of urgency and intensity.

In conclusion, "Victory" is a powerful and inspiring poem that celebrates the strength and resilience of women. Through its use of metaphor and imagery, it conveys a message of empowerment and liberation, encouraging women to rise above the constraints of a patriarchal society and embrace their own power and agency. Rich's language is both lyrical and powerful, creating a sense of momentum and energy that propels the poem forward. "Victory" is a triumph of feminism and empowerment, and a testament to the enduring strength of women.

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