Muriel Rukeyser

(December 15, 1913 – February 12, 1980 / New York City)

Muriel Rukeyser Quotes

  • ''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).
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  • ''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 about sacrifice.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (1949).
  • ''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 (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 1 (1949).
  • ''Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling.... 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.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 1 (1949).
  • ''The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 13 (1949).
  • ''Those who speak of our culture as dead or dying have a quarrel with life, and I think they cannot understand its terms, but must endlessly repeat the projection of their own desires.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 3 (1949).

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Best Poem of Muriel Rukeyser

St. Roach

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 ...

Read the full of St. Roach

St. Roach

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,

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