From the Archives: ‘Exodus,’ a Poem by Adrienne Rich

In her last poem for The Atlantic, Rich contemplated leaving for an unknown place.

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Adrienne Rich began and concluded her relationship with Atlantic readers by writing about endings. She was just 23 years old when the magazine first published one of her poems: “Annotation for an Epitaph,” an elegy for a lost sinner. Seven more pieces of her work were printed in The Atlantic over the next seven years as she began her life as a wife and mother.

In the following decades, both the style and the subject matter of her writing changed considerably, reflecting her dedication to anti-war, civil-rights, and feminist activism. But all of that was still ahead when she made her last contribution to the magazine in 1959, contemplating leaving for an unknown place in “Exodus.” — Annika Neklason