What Kind of Times Are These – Adrienne Rich

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read by Adrienne Rich. audio from salon.com

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

4 thoughts on “What Kind of Times Are These – Adrienne Rich

  1. johnlos

    her voice kind creeps me out. the poem’s kinda sweet though. i hate it when people use the expression “times like these”, particularly in a sentence like ‘in times like these where things cost more and more’ [note the inanity]. seems she’s playing with that a little bit.

  2. admin Post author

    I hadn’t though too much about the phrase (or how it’s used in this poem) – but Rich does seem to be questioning what “times like these” even means.

    on the other hand, it also strikes me as a very serious poem, one that might be pretty easy for ironic hipsters to dismiss (or to find minimal value in). but i like its dark earnestness – and i think that at the end of the poem she turns the gravitas on its ear (if i may abuse a metaphor) a bit.

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