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Muriel Rukeyser

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

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).
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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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Haying Before Storm

This sky is unmistakable. Not lurid, not low, not black.
Illuminated and bruise-color, limitless, to the noon
Full of its floods to come. Under it, field, wheels, and mountain,
The valley scattered with friends, gathering in
Live-colored harvest, filling their arms; not seeming to hope
Not seeming to dread, doing.
I stand where I can see
Holding a small pitcher, coming in toward
The doers and the day.

[Hata Bildir]