December 01, 2002

Muriel Rukeyser

One of my favourite poets, Muriel Rukeyser, wrote a poem that seems to capture the mood of a country determined to go to war, and a faith for the 'unborn' imaginings that will bring peace.


I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
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
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.

From: The Speed of Darkness (1968)

posted on December 01, 2002 at 12:08 PM by fleur.

i'm not sure if it were here or in a blog i made this request, to be safe i'll do it here. please excuse me if this is a second time.
i am trying to find a copy of the poem 'the speed of darkness' by muriel rukeyser. just the poem so i may help a freind doing a paper who wishes to quote from it.

posted on May 18, 2004 3:15 AM by peter.

You may find "Speed of Darkness" in A Muriel Rukeyser Reader, edited by Jan Heller Levi and published by W.W. Norton. This was printed 1994. Most city and university libraries should have this book.

posted on May 18, 2004 8:25 PM by Fleur.

I am looking for a poem in which the following line appears: ...When I was nine I listened to my aunt play Chopin & I cried..."

I do not know whether it is a first line or not. I know it was written prior to 1967. Can you help?

posted on November 22, 2004 9:03 AM by Jane Moser.
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?