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Living in Sin
Living in Sin
by Adrienne Rich

Sound Check

Read this poem aloud. What do you hear?

Sometimes in poetry—like in jazz—it's important to listen to what's not there. And what's not included in this poem, sound-wise, is a whole lot of emphasis on sounds themselves. We don't have really many examples of assonance, consonance, and really only one legit case of alliteration to speak of: "Half heresy" (3). In short, this poem is sonically kind of… boring.

However, dear Shmoopers, that might be exactly the point! We think that, both in terms of form and sound, this poem is sort of monotone. As we pointed out in "Form and Meter," most lines contain a similar number of syllables, with occasional short lines to help us pause to soak in the scene or contemplate a new one. As far as sound goes, the same can be said. Nothing really about the sounds of the poem stand out, and that in a direct way mirrors the kind of monotonous, boring, and flat life that the woman must confront in the poem. So, even the lack of interesting sounds here is meaningful. Neat, huh?

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