Muriel Rukeyser

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

Muriel Rukeyser
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an American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism. Kenneth Rexroth said that she was the greatest poet of her "exact generation".

While her earlier work shows the influence of W.H. Auden in its intricate rhyming and regular meter, she later wrote more freely, famously declaring in a 1968 poetic manifesto “No more masks! No more mythologies!” Apart from her advocacy for the disadvantaged, she reflected a great range of interests, including science, in her writing, and in the 1960s and 70s became a favorite of the anti-war movement and of feminists.

One of her most powerful pieces was a group ... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''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).
  • ''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 ...
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (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

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