The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room – By Adrienne Rich –

Parlour of former home of my ancestors at St John’s Manor, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room

I have seen the mob of late
Standing sullen in the square,
Gazing with a sullen stare
At window, balcony and gate.
Some have talked in bitter tones,
Some have held and fingered stones.
These are follies that subside.
Let us consider, none the less,
Certain frailties of glass
Which, it cannot be denied,
Lead in times like these to fear
For crystal vase and chandelier.
Not that the missiles will be cast;
None as yet dare lift an arm.
But the scene recalls a strom
When our grandsire stood aghast * aghast – horrified, shocked, frightened
To see his antique ruby bowl
Shivered in a thunder-roll.
Let us only bear in mind
How these treasures handed down
From a calmer age passed on
Are in the keeping of our kind.
We stand between the dead glass-blowers
And murmurings of missile throwers.

ADRIENNE RICH The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room


  • Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1929 into what she called a “white and middle class” family.
  • Her father encouraged her to write and taught her how to write poetry.
  • In 1951, Rich graduated from university and, that same year, won the much esteemed Yale Younger Poet’s Prize for her first collection of poems:  ‘A Change of World’.
  • In 1953 she married Alfred Conrad, a Harvard economist.
  • In 1966 she moved to New York  .
  • In 1970 she left her husband. He died, by suicide, that year.
  • While her earlier poems are formal, her later work was more distinctive and individual, reflecting her political and feminist concerns.
  • She won the National Book Award in 1974 for her collection “Diving into the Wreck”
  • She has received numerous other awards for her poetry.
  • She has had a deep and profound influence on the women’s movement in America  over the past 50 years.

ADRIENNE RICH The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room –

More related material.

Adrienne Rich – Forum Publications

The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room – Aoife’s Notes

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