Muriel Rukeyser

To Enter that Rhythm Where the Self Is Lost

To enter that rhythm where the self is lost,
where breathing  :  heartbeat  :  and subtle music
of their relation make our dance, and hasten
us to the moment when all things become
magic, another possibility.
That blind moment, midnight, when all sight
begins, and the dance itself is all our breath,
and we ourselves the moment of life and death.
Blinded;     but given now another saving,
the self as vision, at all times perceiving,
all arts all senses being languages,
delivered of will, being transformed in truth –
for life’s sake surrendering moment and images,
writing the poem;     in love making;      bringing to birth.
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.

The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children: 
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace.  Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world.  One life, or the faring stars.

Effort at Speech Between Two People - Muriel Rukeyser
 Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now? 
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing. 
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit 
who died, in the story, and I crawled under a chair : 
a pink rabbit : it was my birthday, and a candle 
burnt a sore spot on my finger, and I was told to be happy.

: Oh, grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open: 
Now I am thinking of white sails against a sky like music, 
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me. 
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

: Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now? 
When I was nine, I was fruitily sentimental, 
fluid : and my widowed aunt played Chopin, 
and I bent my head to the painted woodwork, and wept. 
I want now to be close to you. I would 
link the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

: I am not happy. I will be open. 
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems. 
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate 
on what a tragedy his life was, really.

: Take my hand. Fist my mind in your hand. What are you now? 
When I was fourteen, I had dreams of suicide, 
I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward death :
if the light had not melted clouds and plains to beauty, 
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt. 
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

: I will be open. I think he never loved me: 
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam 
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls: 
he said with a gay mouth : I love you. Grow to know me.

: What are you now? If we could touch one another, 
if these our separate entities could come to grips, 
clenched like a Chinese puzzle . . . yesterday 
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people, 
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone. 
Everyone silent, moving . . . Take my hand. Speak to me.

we separate again

for the greater good

we go our seperate

ways opening the


so all can see

the mizbeach cry

while the shaved

servants sing

songs of animal


the children watch

longingly  as

blood is given

hand to hand

before it is spilled

on all

the corners

we bumped into


keep it fresh

for mornings dew

revives the dead

and oil runs

through a beard

born in exile






I don’t think

I have a choice

I am free……




my mind washes over

and over the banks

holding the breakers in

turning inside my light


like the clouds riding the wind to the dead sea

if im not hefker

i don’t know how to live

in expectation

rain bring me home my hills are dry

the flowers are beauty

the colors remain

but but but

I distract the way

to run away

i don’t lift a finger

the paint is clean

its not good or bad

no father can tell

how far I am

my prayer is in my words

even if i don’t get up

the morning forgives me

its tragic but true

if i give up now

Ill never be through

all my holding on

is pulling me down

its ok don’t worry

my father sill lives

Ive been set free, so to speak.  Free of the illusion or assumption that I must be any bigger than who i am. I prayed with the names and learned the formulas and meditated upon the teachings. I have been fried many times over and then set free. It started with the letter Aleph poetically enough. Its really the only thing I had at the time amidst all my ass umed knowledge or lack thereof. When you stand in front of the King you cannot fake it. He sees right through you and politely asks “where are you”. Im hiding behind branches and secondary pursuits that satisfy the trends but leave me with little in the means of substance. It can never be anything other than what and who you are. This is the tree of life. It begins with Hassidut, the initial constriction into the vessels of ordinary yihudim for wagon wheel fixers and pipe smokers. It continues to descend until Rebbe Nachman calls the buck to stop here by you. It is no teaching or idea, no complex formulaei or deep meditation. It is where you really are standing in this moment in this mud. If it si not coming from that honesty,  it can be called good and bad the tree of knowledge the snake. It doesn’t really matter if you have all the right answers or scored all the points in the playoff game. Its dust for the snake.

HOwever, if your a criminal, a pervert, or a drug addict, ahhh this is where you can begin to taste the tree of life. Even a mediocre buisnessman can taste it if for one minute or one hour or one day if he stops to admit what he really is and seeks to serve Him from there.  I am the worst shoe maker in the world but it is who I am. I have only bread and water and a tattered coat but it is wine and beef and the finest kingly robes because with them i am standing before the altar, at my shabbas table singing to the King. Offering my incense my holy fire, albiet I only bring the spark, the rest is science, it is enough.  This is what I  bring before the King.  ALeph, Matzah, its really nothing mixed with water but if you are eating manna it is an everlasting gobstopper, a seven course extravaganza because every stitch I sew and every can of peas I stock on the shelf, I am coming home. I am simple and set free. I am happy because I can be nothing else. I am an aleph, a tree, a flower, a precious stone on HaSHems breastplate. I need nothing more. We can sit here on the park bench for all eternity and being with you is enough. You are enough, your being, your emunah, naturally. matzah is eating the tree of life and starting at zero at aleph, everything returns. This is the glory and the splendor of the Tzadik the true Redeemer the Moses who brings you out of egypt. His name is enough to bring you out a little by little. First Na then Nach, Nachma, Nachman MeUman . YOu can not skip steps, it, and you must start at the beginning. It is the only thing you really have after all is accounted. The end has begun and we are all being called to our place. Being Zusha not Moshe. I will not be a wise cracker and I will beleive even if i don’t see and I will eventually sit next to the King.

Its yeast in me  that keeps me from laying low when i know I should. I know you know that i really want it. I want to want it. I yearn but i lust also. I am rising and find myself, catch myself, and sometimes let myself rise higher than i should. It feels so soft and inate, to be great or love anonymously. If i could clean my bowl once and start a new, just to be a newborn for one minute and like a child wanting what is simply good. If i could talk freely with you I think I could work it out, but maybe that is my yeast rising to occasion trying to work everything out and make like its not so bad or sad or sick. If it tastes good it must be ok right, i taste ok, im prepared, mixed, kneaded, and baked under 18 minutes just like angel bread. How could it be Hametz. I must not be the problem, she has to work on her midot. Am i flying right now or falling. My heart is sinking and the floor is falling out. Its the same feeling i have when Im about to be convicted, or tried or called to the principals office. i think im scared. of hametz and my soft matzah and my aveyrot and my devils.

L.H. Hilchot of the Morning Blessings H.5,22

This is what the Tana said: It is revealed and known before you that my will is to do your will only the yeast in the dough inhibits me.etc. Because the yeast in the dough is the opppsite of the supernal will, and it is impossible to nullify and sweeten (this impediment) other than through the illumination of the [metzah haratzon] (forehead) cerebral will. as was mentioned earlier. Therefore, in truth our master, teacher and Ribi Z’L warned us very very much that a person should always be careful to emphasize and literally take control of ones being with positive thoughts desires, and yearnings for HaShem may He be Blessed. Because the essence is the will etc…and like it is clarified inumerable times in his teachings. And even more than this he spoke with us constantly saying “even if a person is as low as he is, as long as he does not give up on himself, and conquers with positive thoughts and yearnings to HaShem may he be blessed and his Torah, through this he gives power to all the true Tzadikim who are constantly engaged in channeling the illumination of the [metzach haratzon], and through this they raise up a person from devastation to ultimate will.  Understand this well. Also, this is what the Tana himself was doing speaking before HaShem in his prayer  above “it is revealed and known before you”.  etc… Through the very act of making this argument before HaShem he brought upon himself incredible yearning and desires for Hashem and was able to bring the illumination of the ultimate supernal will, and essentially nullify the yeast in the dough which is impeding him  from doing HaShems will.

All of this is the realty of speaking directly before HaShem, which our master and teacher Z’L warned us constantly without measure that this is the main channel. The entire idea of this personal prayer is to renew and strengthen ones own will and desire to serve and come close to HaShem. Through this a person brings into his life the illumination of the supernal redemption [pidyon] that was mentioned earlier. One must be very very vigilant in this beyond measure. THen in the end finally he will certainly sweeten everything through the power of the Tzadik who is engaged in the universal redemption[pidyon hakollel] of souls. Then everything will be transformed into the good because in this place everything is rectified. NNNNM Gevalt!!

The complete beginning, from the most basic essence, I have not left my place.  I can begin only when I have arrived at the primary ingredients of my being.  Life in the 18 minutes does not rise beyond its most simple beginnings. If I am able to reduce my movement , to knead out all of the extraneous matter holding me back, deluding me into being something that I am not, then we can leave Egypt.  Who I am and what i really want is enough to bring the ultimate pidyon from the highest renewal of  (Ratzon Elyon) supernal will) In the essence of my most basic desire to be good and bring good, to fulfill my destiny fully and help unfold creation toward redemption, therein lies the key to ultimate rejew-ve-nation.  The kindness I give to myself and to others, in letting them exist, giving them room to mistake and misstep, this is my korban sacrifice. Kind and gracious abba help me to give thanks for who i am and where I am going and to see the good in others, giving kindness as space.