Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Great Regulars: The poem is an address to Victor of Aveyron,

the mute "wild boy" who emerged from the French woods in 1800 as a suspected feral child; it transforms into a wide-ranging meditation on language, the Enlightenment and empathy in five brief sections. Victor's story is powerful, but what Rich's poem accomplishes is partial. She suggests that his male doctors, who failed to teach him to speak, are obtuse: Why would a wild boy learn the words for tables and stemware and books, those accouterments of civilization? What if nature provided him with his own internal, impersonal (and more interesting) language that the scientists knew nothing of? And more disturbingly: What if women are natural allies of this feral primordiality?

from Ange Mlinko: The Nation: Diagram This: On Adrienne Rich


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