Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday's poems: Muriel Rukeyser

Writing must teach man soberness: to be awake
Zbignew Herbert
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) was an American poet and social justice activist, well known for her political poetry. Her poetry acted as mode of social protest. She used poetry to  document her own emotional experiences to larger social and political events.
Poet Adrienne Rich wrote that Rukeyser's poetry:
"......... confronts the turbulent currents of 20th-century history, as it explores with depth and honesty the realms of politics, sexuality, mythic imagination, technological change, and family life. She was a social activist of unwavering commitment, a tireless experimenter who opened fresh forms and fresh subject matter in modern American poetry, and a writer who was constantly testing her own limits in a life's work of extraordinary scope".
Sections from some of her poetry are presented below
Muriel Rukeyser "Poem"
I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars".

"Whatever can come to a city can come to this city. . .
Whatever can come to a woman can come to me. .

Whatever can happen to anyone can happen to me. . ."
Muriel Rukeyser from "Waterlily Fire"
"yet unborn in the dark
who will be the throat of these hours
who will speak these days,
if not I"
if not you"
Muriel Rukeyser from "Out of Silence: Selected poems"

No comments: