Tuesday, December 06, 2022 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913 – 1980)

American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism.
Muriel Rukeyser
I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
Rukeyser quotes
An "American genius," our "twentieth-century Whitman." Anne Sexton and Erica Jong both referred to Muriel Rukeyser as "the mother of everyone."
Muriel Rukeyser unspools one of the most passionate arguments I've ever read for the notion that art creates meeting places, that poetry creates democracy.

Rukeyser Muriel quotes
We sit here, very different each from the other, until the passion arrives to give us our equality, to make us part of the play, to make the play part of us.
Rukeyser Muriel
In time of crisis, we summon up our strength.
Then, if we are lucky, we are able to call every resource, every forgotten image that can leap to our quickening, every memory that can make us know our power. And this luck is more than it seems to be: it depends on the long preparation of the self to be used.
In time of the crises of the spirit, we are aware of all our need, our need for each other and our need for our selves. We call up, with all the strength of summoning we have, our fullness.
Muriel Rukeyser quotes
O for God's sake
they are connected
Muriel Rukeyser
The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
Rukeyser Muriel quotes
A poem does invite, it does require. What does it invite? A poem invites you to feel. More than that: it invites you to respond. And better than that: a poem invites a total response.
This response is total, but it is reached through the emotions. A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling.
How shall we venture home?
How shall we tell each other of the poet?
How can we meet the judgment on the poet,
or his execution? How shall we free him?
Rukeyser Muriel
Muriel Rukeyser loved poetry more than anyone I've ever known. She also believed it could change us, move the world.
Muriel Rukeyser
Belief has its structures, and its symbols change. Its tradition changes. All the relationships within these forms are inter-dependent. We look at the symbols, we hope to read them, we hope for sharing and communication. Sometimes it is there at once, we find it before the words arrive, as in the gesture of John Brown, or the communication of a great actor-dancer, whose gesture and attitude will tell us before his speech adds meaning from another source. Sometimes it rises in us sleeping, evoked by the images of dream, recognized in the blood. The buried voices carry a ground music; they have indeed lived the life of our people. In times of perversity and stress and sundering, it may be a life inverted, the poet who leaps from the ship into the sea; on the level of open belief, it will be the life of the tribe. In subjugated peoples, the poet emerges as prophet.

Muriel Rukeyser quotes
All the poems of our lives are not yet made.
Muriel Rukeyser
The poetic image is not a static thing. It lives in time, as does the poem. Unless it is the first image of the poem, it has already been prepared for by other images; and it prepares us for further images and rhythms to come. Even if it is the first image of the poem, the establishment of the rhythm prepares us musically for the music of the image. And if its first word begins the poem, it has the role of putting into motion all the course of images and music of the entire work, with nothing to refer to, except perhaps a title.
Rukeyser quotes
To be a Jew in the twentieth century
Is to be offered a gift. If you refuse,
Wishing to be invisible, you choose
Death of the spirit, the stone insanity.
Accepting, take full life. Full agonies:
Your evening deep in labyrinthine blood
Of those who resist, fail, and resist: and God
Reduced to a hostage among hostages.
Rukeyser Muriel
What do you want a cliff over a city?
A foreland, sloped to sea and overgrown with roses?
These people live here.
Rukeyser Muriel quotes
The statement of ideas in a poem may have to do with logic. More profoundly, it may be identified with the emotional progression of the poem, in terms of the music and images, so that the poem is alive throughout.
Another, more fundamental statement in poetry, is made through the images themselves those declarations, evocative, exact, and musical, which move through time and are the actions of a poem.
Muriel Rukeyser
In this moment when we face horizons and conflicts wider than ever before, we want our resources, the ways of strength. We look again to the human wish, its faiths, the means by which the imagination leads us to surpass ourselves.
If there is a feeling that something has been lost, it may be because much has not yet been used, much is still to be found and begun.
Everywhere we are told that our human resources are all to be used, that our civilization itself means the uses of everything it has the inventions, the histories, every scrap of fact. But there is one kind of knowledge infinitely precious, time-resistant more than monuments, here to be passed between the generations in any way it may be: never to be used. And that is poetry.
Muriel Rukeyser quotes
Experience taken into the body, breathed-in, so that reality is the completion of experience, and poetry is what is produced. And life is what is produced.
To stand against the idea of the fallen world, a powerful and destructive idea overshadowing Western poetry. In that sense, there is no lost Eden, and God is the future. The child walled-up in our life can be given his growth. In this growth is our security.
Muriel Rukeyser
Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling, and what is the use of truth!
How do we use feeling?
How do we use truth!
Rukeyser Muriel
The whole and fertile spirit as guarantee
For every human freedom, suffering to be free,
Daring to live for the impossible.

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