I chose to analyze the poem “Storm Warnings” by Adrienne Rich. On the surface, the poem is about an approaching storm and the fact that, despite the many warnings and signs, storms can arrive suddenly and unexpectedly. But the work also has a deeper meaning in regards to the storms that have nothing to do with weather and everything to do with the human condition. In the second stanza, Rich writes “Weather abroad/ And weather in the heart alike come on/ Regardless of prediction” (12-14). The poem is comparing earthly storms to the turmoil and struggles we as humans sometimes feel, these rough patches that we have so adequately defined as storms.
Rich illustrates storms, of both external and internal nature, through the sense of overwhelming inevitability that permeates the stanzas of the poem. The author states “Time in the hand is not control of time” (18) to emphasize how little control we have over the presence and will of storms. They arrive faster than expected, if they are expected at all. Rich further dictates the power of storms by contrasting wind and us: “the wind will rise,/ We can only close the shutters” (20-21). This stanza creates the picture of an enormous, raging storm rising against nothing but closed shutters. Such an image illustrates not only the sheer force of the wind, but also the feebleness of its victims, the idea that this, that closing the shutters, is all we can do. It is this portrayal of powerlessness that contributes to the overwhelming quality of the storms Rich describes.
The final stanza of the poem is filled with a tone of complacency. The speaker simply goes about his typical business, saying “These are the things that we have learned to do/ Who live in the troubled regions” (27-28). This statement holds the implication of repetition: these storms occur frequently and consistently. These actions and conclusions enforce the idea that there is nothing to be done. Such an attitude contributes to the complacent, nearly aloof tone the author holds over the stanza. The complacency further annunciates the inevitability of storms that Rich cultivates throughout the poem.