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Everyone has dealt with troubled times, which can accurately be described as ‘dark times’ or ‘internal storms.’ In the poem “Storm Warnings”, Adrienne Rich organizes the poem’s main statement in the middle of the poem in order to mimic the buildup and aftermath of a real storm, provide the division between her external and internal storm, and elaborate on the uselessness of warnings. Her organization of the the focal point of the poem is important, as it is specifically placed in the middle.
If we look at the first two stanzas, she uses imagery to paint a picture of her setting. With, “The glass has been falling all afternoon” and “gray unrest is moving across the land” (Rich, line 4 ). For these quotes, the author is describing her environment that is affected by the storm. What typically happens when a storm is arriving, so the buildup to it. Then we see her make her main statement at the end of the second stanza. “Weather abroad and weather in the heart alike come on regardless of prediction” (Rich, line 13). It is in this line that the author first mentions a metaphorical storm, a storm in the heart. She chose to place this shift in tone in the middle of the poem in order to imitate the events of a real storm.
In the second half of the poem, the author has switched to her actions after seeing the storm coming. She prepares herself and goes in defense mode to protect herself. “I draw the curtain as the sky goes black” (Rich, line 21 ). This no longer depicts the buildup to the storm, but instead the aftermath. The first and second stanza depict a storm, in the literal sense, while the third and fourth stanzas portray both a literal and internal storm. She starts off the poem by describing her environment affected by the storm. Rich leaves her chair to examine outside as soon as the signs of a storm make themselves visible. “Watching boughs strain against the sky” (Rich, line 7 ). This is a literal storm because she is describing the effects of the storm on external, tangible things such as, the sky. However, in the second half of the poem, we see the author using a metaphorical meaning of protection from harm: “We can only close the shutters” (Rich, line 22). This statement signifies the helplessness and feeling of despair Rich and others get when they realize they can’t do much to stop the storm. Rich also presents the uselessness of warnings when it comes to warding off storms .When speaking about internal storms, Rich clarifies that many people try to avoid change even though it is not something people can control.
A storm will come no matter how cautious you are: “Weather abroad […] come on regardless of prediction” (Rich, line 13-14). Rich states that if the storm has been predicted to come, it will, and if it hasn’t, it still will. Not knowing about it does not stop it from approaching. This applies to both a literal storm and an internal storm. There are some who try to avoid any changes in their life in fear of chaos, creating a false feeling of control over their personal and internal storms. However, as Rich states, “time in the hand is not control of time” (Rich, line 18 ). This is a metaphor for a watch, signifying the measurement of time, but just because you can measure time does not mean that you control it. Similarly, in an external storm, no one has control of the weather, and in someone’s personal life no has control over what changes come next. The author also hints at skills she has acquired from previous storms, from drawing the curtains, to lighting a candle. “This is our sole defense against the season; these are the things that we have learned to do” (Rich, line 26-27). Those that have experience with many internal or external storms usually are more prepared for the next one; thus, Rich comes to the conclusion that taking a defensive route is best when approached by a dark situation.
Adrienne Rich organizes the poem’s main statement in the middle of the poem in order to guide the reader’s reactions and emotions through a simulated experience and to underscore one of her main themes: the questionable value of warnings. By using metaphors, she is thus able to elaborate on the similarities between literal storms and the storm within that everyone faces.
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