Completely Subjective: Adrienne Rich’s “The Architect”

Published in 2001 in The Paris ReviewAdrienne Rich’s “The Architect” is a poem I feel that I understand on a personal level. This poem uses creative language and relatable topics to connect with the reader.

I first read this poem while trying to find something to pitch to my class. I felt that Rich’s work was so relatable as a reader. It exemplified the natural selfishness that everyone is this world has somewhere inside them. I believe that this is a very important subject considering all the negativity and selfishness that is currently surrounding us. Everyone is selfish at some point in their lives, but it is not the way to go through life. This poem is the epitome of greed and jealousy, and I think that makes it very relatable. I have faced many times where I have wanted to be selfish and do what is better for me rather than everyone else, but I stop and think before I act so that I do not betray my friends just as the architect in this poem did.

The architect in this poem is focused deeply on money and success, and he lets this get in the way of what is right. He betrays his friends and those who hired him, in order to gain recognition. His passion for his work and his art does not exceed his need for success and for fame. He just cares about building mansions and becoming rich. Although this poem is about a very selfish man, it does not paint selfishness in a positive light. It made me realize that I should never care about money or fame more than what I love to do and more than the ones I love.

white mansionThis image depicts what this man was picturing in his mind when he thought about designing huge mansions with big white pillars and getting paid tons of money. It’s not that he just wanted to build amazing houses because that it what he loved to do, but that he just wanted to become a very rich man. Instead of setting goals within his career, he set goals for his bank account, and this is not the way one should go through life because you will eventually lose all passion for the thing that you once used to love.

I believe that the line “You could say he spread himself too thin,” is one that all can relate to. I know that I felt personally drawn to that line. Everyone at some time or another has “spread themselves too thin” or taken on too many things at once. Thisarchitect wanted to accomplish so many things at once, that is was just getting to be too much. Instead of taking his time with each project and putting his whole heart into each house, he wanted to be well-known and thought that the way to do this was to finish as many projects as he could. He clearly cares more about his reputation than about the happiness of his clients and about the integrity of his designs.

Adrienne Rich is a very successful poet, with fifteen published books of poetry, and I believe that the lever of her talent is very prevalent throughout this poem. In my opinion, the way to write poetry is to make it relatable to the reader while still being complex enough to have to be broken down and read over many times. Rich writes that this architect in the poem was going through some rough times in his life, and his work depended on popularity and wealth. This is exactly what I got from the poem, as Ihave written, so I like the fact that once you dig deep, there is one true meaning to the poem rather than many different ones.

It truly does take a lot for me to find a poem that I really enjoy, but with “The Architect,” I knew that it was wonderfully written after my first read.

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