I Dream I'm the Death of Orpheus

I Dream I'm the Death of Orpheus

I am walking rapidly through striations of light and dark thrown under an arcade.

I am a woman in the prime of life, with certain powers
and those powers severely limited
by authorities whose faces I rarely see.
I am a woman in the prime of life
driving her dead poet in a black Rolls-Royce
through a landscape of twilight and thorns.
A woman with a certain mission
which if obeyed to the letter will leave her intact.
A woman with the nerves of a panther
a woman with contacts among Hell's Angels
a woman feeling the fullness of her powers
at the precise moment when she must not use them
a woman sworn to lucidity
who sees through the mayhem, the smoky fires
of these underground streets
her dead poet learning to walk backward against the wind
on the wrong side of the mirror


from The Will to Change (W. W. Norton & Company, 1971), copyright © Adrienne Rich 1971, used by permission of the author

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1Antinous: The Diaries

2The Roofwalker

3Night-Pieces: For A Child

4"I Am in Danger - Sir - "

5Spring Thunder

6Face to Face


8In the Evening

9For a Russian Poet


11On Edges

12I Dream I'm The Death of Orpheus

13Letters: March 1969

14Diving into the Wreck


16Blue Rock



19Final Notations

20What Kind Of Times Are These

21In Those Years

22To The Days

23Miracle Ice Cream


25The Art of Translation


27Letters to a Young Poet

28For This


30Terza Rima