Living in Sin
by Adrienne Rich
For a poem about love, there sure is a lot of talk about furniture going on here! That's because the whole studio is an extended metaphor for the woman's relationship. Almost every line in the poem refers in some way to the condition of the studio. Here are just a few that "set the scene":
- Line 2: We are introduced to the idea that the studio must be an extended metaphor for the woman's relationship when the furniture is called the "furniture of love."
- Lines 3-4: These lines show us pretty immediately that her relationship is not ideal, since this studio has noisy water pipes and grimy windows.
- Lines 4-7: These lines might seem confusing, since their picture-perfect image contrasts with the noisy water pipes and grimy windows of the lines before. So which is it? Well, since these lines contrast with the image we get of the studio in the rest of the poem, they probably represent what the woman had originally expected the studio (relationship) to look like, rather than the dull and dirty reality of her situation.
- Lines 13-14: The beetle eyes are a creepy touch here. Not only do they stare at the woman, but they are a double-synecdoche, or part (eyes) that represent a whole (first, the single beetle, but then in line 14 a whole "village" of beetles). The joint is infested! That does not reflect well on the state of the relationship.