May 11, 2018

we stood saying I

Adrienne Rich’s “In Those Years,” which I came across today while re-reading some works of Maxine Greene, the late philosopher who wrote so well about the arts, ethics, and the “social imagination” happening between and among people and artifacts. But Rich’s poem here is something else again, and never more appropriate than now:

In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves
reduced to I
and the whole thing became
silly, ironic, terrible:
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to

But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
into our personal weather
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions
along the shore, through the rags of fog
where we stood, saying I