"Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" is a 1951 poem by American poet Adrienne Rich. It appeared in her first published book of poems, A Change of World. Told from the perspective of an anonymous speaker, the poem describes a woman, Aunt Jennifer, who crafts vibrant tapestry panels (depicting tigers) to escape—mentally, at least—her unhappy marriage. Written at a time when divorce was unacceptable, the poem criticizes the traditional institution of marriage, suggesting that it oppresses women.
Aunt Jennifer's tigers ...
... world of green.
They do not ...
... sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer's fingers ...
... hard to pull.
The massive weight ...
... Aunt Jennifer's hand.
When Aunt is ...
... was mastered by.
The tigers in ...
... proud and unafraid.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
A Biography of Adrienne Rich — Learn more about the poem's author.
The National Book Award Ceremony — Read the speech given by Adrienne Rich upon her acceptance of the 1974 National Book Award for Poetry. She wrote it with Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, the other two feminist poets nominated that year. The three women wrote had agreed to accept the prize together if any one of them won.
A History of Marriage — Learn about the history of marriage as traditionally configured in societies in which women are dependent on men in the family hierarchy.
A "Feminist Awakening" — Learn about Adrienne Rich’s "feminist awakening," as seen through previously unpublished letters.
Adrienne Rich's Obituary — Adrienne Rich died in 2012 at age 82. Read her obituary, including career highlights.
1Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
2Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
3They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
4They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
5Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool
6Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
7The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
8Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.
9When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
10Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
11The tigers in the panel that she made
12Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.