Muriel Rukeyser Quotes

All the strong agonized men Wear the hard clothes of war, Try to remember what they are fighting for. But in dark weeping helpless moments of peace Women and poets believe and resist forever.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "Letter to the Front," part 1, lines 7-11 (1944). Written during World War II.
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Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "Poem Out of Childhood," line 1 (1935).
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The origin of storms is not in clouds, our lightning strikes when the earth rises, spillways free authentic power: dead John Brown's body walking from a tunnel to break the armored and concluded mind.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "The Bill," last five lines (1938). Two years earlier, Rukeyser, who was then aligned with the Communist Party, had gathered information on a corporate cover-up of unsafe mining conditions in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; they had caused illness and death among many miners. The situation had been disclosed by the Communist Party USA. A Congressional subcommittee had investigated and found the mining company, a subsidiary of Union Carbide and Carbon, to be in the wrong.
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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).
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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).
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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).
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I cannot say what poetry is; I know that our sufferings and our concentrated joy, our states of plunging far and dark and turning to come back to the world—so that the moment of intense turning seems still and universal—all are here, in a music like the music of our time, like the hero and like the anonymous forgotten; and there is an exchange here in which our lives are met, and created.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 10 (1949).
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The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 13 (1949).
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A work of art is one through which the consciousness of the artist is able to give its emotions to anyone who is prepared to receive them. There is no such thing as bad art.
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 4 (1949).
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