Poem

By Muriel Rukeyser 1913–1980 Muriel Rukeyser
I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

Muriel Rukeyser, “Poem” from The Speed of Darkness. Copyright © 1968 by Muriel Rukeyser. Reprinted by permission of International Creative Management.

Source: The Speed of Darkness (Vintage Books, 1968)

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Poet Muriel Rukeyser 1913–1980

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

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 Muriel  Rukeyser

Biography

Although poet Muriel Rukeyser often provoked a varying critical response to her work, there was never any doubt during her five-decade literary career that a resounding passion was on display. Of her first book, the award-winning collection Theory of Flight, W. R. Benet remarked in the Saturday Review of Literature : "She is a radical politically, but she writes as a poet not a propagandist. When you hold this book in your hand . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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