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.
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