Muriel Rukeyser

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

26-1-1939 - Poem by Muriel Rukeyser

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.

Decisions of history the radios reverse;
Storm over continents, black rays around the chief,
Finished in lightning, the little chaos raves.
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

Inverted year with one prophetic day,
high wind, forgetful cities, and the war,
the terrible time when everyone writes “hope.”
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

When Barcelona fell, the cry on the roads
assembled horizons, and the circle of eyes
looked with a lifetime look upon that image,
defeat among us, and war, and prophecy,
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

Comments about 26-1-1939 by Muriel Rukeyser

  • Gold Star - 5,579 Points John Richter (8/17/2015 7:25:00 AM)

    I just could not disagree more, Stephen W.... This poem is extremely coherent and comes from a time and generation who lived their lives within a completely different mindset than we. And in my opinion they were indeed the greatest generation, to borrow a phrase from Tom Brokaw. Muriel saw two major wars in her lifetime. Both of them involved Barcelona. Though the poem is about war, I think it is more specifically about the second world war, which should have been avoided by prophecy, which is the true sense and incredible insight that Muriel places on it. Empathy will bring these lines alive for you. Pick any line and put yourself in that generation's shoes and you will understand them. For example, decisions of history the radios reversed. Germany was under the strictest sanctions after WW1. They were forbidden to build military strength or create any scenario where they could bring another war about. Radios were the main force of public information back then, and she is talking about the brilliant propaganda that Hitler and Goebels employed over the radio and movie houses to literally reverse the decisions of the treaty of Versailles, at least in the minds of the German people who were the only ones that mattered to the regime. With the support at home they were able to thumb their noses at the rest of the world. That is such an incredibly deep set of thoughts squeezed into six words. And every line in this poem is like that. It is absolutely genius. (Report) Reply

    Freshman - 943 Points Stephen W (9/20/2015 1:48:00 PM)

    Interesting and insightful. Perhaps you could write a fuller analysis on here. This style of poetry troubles me as it is inaccessible to the general public, but I would be interested to understand this poem better.
    Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. - Adrian Mitchell

    Gold Star - 28,986 Points Kim Barney (8/17/2015 7:33:00 AM)

    One hundred percent correct, John. Your analytical ability always amazes me. Very well said.

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  • Freshman - 943 Points Stephen W (8/17/2015 5:56:00 AM)

    Emotive, but ungrammatical & semi-coherent. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 15,816 Points Ramesh T A (8/17/2015 1:20:00 AM)

    War brings great grief and hope of bright future after war poet sees from the faces of people after the fall of Barcelona in war! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 15, 2011

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 15, 2011

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