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Introduction & Overview of Rusted Legacy

This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Rusted Legacy.
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Rusted Legacy Summary & Study Guide Description

Rusted Legacy Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Rusted Legacy by Adrienne Rich.

Adrienne Rich published "Rusted Legacy" in the literary journal Sulfur in 1997. The poem appeared two years later in her poetry collection Midnight Salvage, in which the poet declared she tried, at the end of the century, "to face the terrible with hope, in language as complex as necessary. . . . to write . . . for readers . . . finding their own salvaged beauty as I have found mine." The poems meditate on political ideas and events from the twentieth century and attempt to "salvage" hope from the fear, violence, and despair that have characterized that period of history. Like the other poems in the volume, and as with much of Rich's work since the 1960s, "Rusted Legacy" fuses the political and the personal. In the poem, the speaker looks back on political events and attitudes of another time and place and laments the decay of once powerful ideas and ideals, exploring the effect of those views on society and on her personally.

"Rusted Legacy" is an intense and difficult work, one that does not lend itself to straightforward interpretation. The poem's action is often perplexing, and the images used are obscure, rooted as they are in Rich's personal experiences. The piece seems to denounce political repression, comment on the withering of principles, and explore sexual roles, but this sense is derived not from any sustained statement or explanation by the poet but from the mood and scattered thoughts presented in the work. Rich has been faulted for her grim intellectualism and inaccessibility, and these characterizations may well be said to apply to "Rusted Legacy." However, for all its complexity and gloomy obscurity, the poem also bears the hallmarks of Rich's finest work, with its musicality of language and ability to elicit emotions using stark, disconcerting imagery.

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Poetry for Students
Rusted Legacy from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.