Muriel Rukeyser

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

St. Roach - Poem by Muriel Rukeyser

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;
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Comments about St. Roach by Muriel Rukeyser

  • John Richter (2/11/2016 12:09:00 PM)

    can anyone interpret this please? (Report) Reply

    Jennie Dunne (2/11/2016 8:28:00 PM)

    Look at the first line and then the last verse, when you learn something it's possibly because others have taught you but when you know something it's because you have taught yourself, you know people through experience so she was taught to stay away from the subject clearly a person and when she decided to go against what she was taught and learn her own lesson she did just that and she learned the other person had been taught the same as her which was to stay away, I think it's why she writes at the end I reach, I touch, I begin to know you that's my interpretation of this poem

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  • Wolfgang Steinmann (1/12/2015 9:24:00 AM)

    At first I thought: A poem about roaches? But is it really? How wonderful it describes our prejudices!
    Jew=Roach? , Negro=Roach? - we have certainly treated them as such. This poem should be read by anyone who thinks he is better than others! (Report) Reply

  • John Richter (1/12/2015 7:24:00 AM)

    Not altogether certain she is speaking of cockroaches. Muriel lived through both world wars and the liberation of Israel as a Jewish woman. Could her affectionate poem be directed toward those war mongers? Art is art in any way through - if nothing more it gives us the romanticism of subjection. (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (1/12/2013 8:39:00 AM)

    I think it's just a bit silly. (Report) Reply

    Stephen W (9/20/2015 2:50:00 PM)

    Dunno why I wrote this 2 years ago. Must have been in a funny mood.

  • Juan Olivarez (1/11/2012 8:13:00 AM)

    Tell me who you associate with, and I will know you. What a dirty woman you must have been Muriel. Creepy poem too advocating Sainthood for a roach, disgusting. (Report) Reply

  • Carolynn Shaw (11/7/2007 1:30:00 PM)


    How sad, how shameful we are. Cruel in our habits and traditions. You shame me, you shame us - no, you show us our shame and allow us to breathe. Thank you for this poem.

    Carolynn (Report) Reply

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