an American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism. Kenneth Rexroth said that she was the greatest poet of her "exact generation".
While her earlier work shows the influence of W.H. Auden in its intricate rhyming and regular meter, she later wrote more freely, famously declaring in a 1968 poetic manifesto “No more masks! No more mythologies!” Apart from her advocacy for the disadvantaged, she reflected a great range of interests, including science, in her writing, and in the 1960s and 70s became a favorite of the anti-war movement and of feminists.
One of her most powerful pieces was a group ... more »
Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets.
Muriel Rukeyser Poems
For that I never knew you, I only learned to dread you, for that I never touched you, they told me you are filth, they showed me by every action to despise your kind; for that I saw my people making war on you,
The Conjugation of the Paramecium
This has nothing to do with propagating
Boy With His Hair Cut Short
SUNDAY shuts down on this twentieth-century evening. The L passes. Twilight and bulb define
Reading Time: 1 Minute 26 Seconds
The fear of poetry is the fear : mystery and fury of a midnight street of windows whose low voluptuous voice issues, and after that there is not peace.
Elegy in Joy
We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer, or the look, the lake in the eye that knows, for the despair that flows down in widest rivers, cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was the Sphinx. Oedipus said, 'I want to ask one question. Why didn't I recognize my mother?' 'You gave the
Metaphor to Action
Whether it is a speaker, taut on a platform, who battles a crowd with the hammers of his words, whether it is the crash of lips on lips after absence and wanting : we must close
In the cave with a long-ago flare a woman stands, her arms up. Red twig, black twig, brown twig. A wall of leaping darkness over her.
When Barcelona fell, the darkened glass turned in the world and immense ruinous gaze, mirror of prophecy in a series of mirrors. I meet it in all the faces that I see.
There were three of them that night. They wanted it to happen in the first woman’s room. The man called her; the phone rang high. Then she put fresh lipstick on.
This is a lung disease. Silicate dust makes it. The dust causing the growth of This is the X-ray picture taken last April.
This is the cripple’s hour on Seventh Avenue when they emerge, the two o’clock night-walkers, the cane, the crutch, and the black suit.
The Book of The Dead
These roads will take you into your own country. Seasons and maps coming where this road comes into a landscape mirrored in these men.
In the human cities, never again to despise the backside of the city, the ghetto, or build it again as we build the despised backsides of houses. Look at your own building
Quotationsmore quotations »
''Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems.''Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 5 (1949).
''If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.''Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 10 (1949).
''Exchange is creation.''Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (1949).
''Flight is intolerable contradiction.''Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "Theory of Flight," line 8 (1935).
I think there is choice possible at any moment to us, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away. Second choice does not exist. Beware of those who talk ...Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (1949).
Comments about Muriel Rukeyser
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
For that I never knew you, I only learned to dread you,
for that I never touched you, they told me you are filth,
they showed me by every action to despise your kind;
for that I saw my people making war on you,
I could not tell you apart, one from another,
for that in childhood I lived in places clear of you,
for that all the people I knew met you by
crushing you, stamping you to death, they poured boiling
water on you, they flushed you down,
for that I could not tell one from another
only that you were dark, fast on your feet, and slender.
Not like ...