The Dream of a Common Language

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The Dream of a Common Language is a work of poetry written by award-winning author and activist Adrienne Rich.

The book is divided into three sections: first "Power"; second "Twenty One Love Poems"; third "Not Somewhere Else, But Here".[1]

The collection of poems was the first book Rich published after she came out as a lesbian in 1976. In it, she explores the concept of a common language, to be achieved through poetry, art, and feminist ideas. The book is an integration of the author's personal life and social and political beliefs.

The section, "Power," contains poems about noted accomplishments of individual women, that she relates to all women. The poem, "Power," discusses Marie Curie's discovery of elements, which made her powerful but eventually led to her death. The eight poems in this section comment on the need for the nature of power to be redefined, in order to include women in a way that does not destroy them. The poems show a necessary change in ideologies to achieve the common language.[2]

The section, "Twenty-one Love Poems," is a group of lesbian love poems that aim to present the power of love between two women and the need to change the cultural values that do not recognize this as a kind of love. The love poems comment on how women involved in lesbian relationships are alienated because their love is not recognized by the world. The relationship that the poems are about disintegrates by the end because societal and cultural forces prevented it from lasting. The poem, "XVII," mentions these forces working "within us and against us, against us and within us."[3]

The section, "Not Somewhere Else, But Here," continues to discuss female relationships, now in relation to nature. The poem, "Natural Resources," presents common elements in the lives of women, compared to the elements in nature. The poem, "Transcendental Etude," celebrates the power of women to create on a large scale from ordinary materials. These and the other eight poems in the section show the power that women have in order to convey how the nature of language should be changed, how ideologies must change, how masculine definitions of power must be redefined, to create a common language.[2]