Rich's The Afterwake as a Feminist Poem

The poem The Afterwake is a feminist poem in its theme because it expresses the determination of an exhausted woman to move ahead on her own way with another woman like herself.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

The woman is leaving a man behind in whose service she has spent her past; this is the voice of the late twentieth century women who began to revolt against male exploitations and traditions of the past. Ina sense, the speaker of the poem is a modern woman who has become conscious about the necessity of women’s co-operations against the constricting life patterns of the diseased past, which is like the night that the speaker has spent in the service of a man suffering from a mental problem.

The second stanza of the poem has almost obvious hints that the poetess is implying to the feminist movement of the late nineteen seventies. The confident tone of the stanza suggests that the woman speaker is boldly talking back to the male whom she has served for the night –like centuries of history. She has now allied herself with another woman who is also like her, and has the same path of struggle to hold on. She knows that the purpose will be cut short by life, but she is also determined to go with the other woman. This was the kind of commitment of the women who had started revolting against the limitations, suppressions, oppressions and repressions of the traditional male-dominated family and society in the seventies. This is therefore a feminist poem in its deeper sub textual level.

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Sharma, Kedar N. "Rich's The Afterwake as a Feminist Poem" BachelorandMaster, 16 Nov. 2013,