Welcome to the Muriel Rukeyser Website.
As a “Living Archive,” our website is designed to engender lively interdisciplinary conversations about this important twentieth-century poet. Please take a minute to acquaint yourself with the site. Also consider contributing responses–critical, pedagogical, or creative–to the website by contacting us here.
We are excited to publish Laura Passin’s paper “The Power of Suicide and the Refusal of Mythology: Sylvia Plath and Muriel Rukeyser,” which she presented at the meeting of the American Literature Association in May, in a the session on Rukeyser and Other Writers. We would welcome your response to the essay. Just contact us through the contact page or leave a response on our facebook page.
Our new web assistant Adam Mitts has produced an annotated copy of The Book of the Dead and joined our impressive line-up of current bloggers Marian Evans and Catherine Gander. Have a look at Adam’s recent blog about geography and place in The Book of the Dead. We are also the lucky recipient of Dara Barnat’s moving account of Rukeyser’s legacy in her own life as a poet, entitled “Finding Muriel.” The essay will be published in the Spring/Summer 2014 Issue of Poet Lore.
Came in my full youth to the midnight cave
Nerves ringing; and this thing I did alone.
Wanting my fullness and not a field of war,
For the world considered annihilation, a star
Called Wormwood rose and flickered, shattering
Bent light over the dead boiling up in the ground.
The biting yellow of their corrupted lives
Streaming to war, denying all our words.
Nothing was left among the tainted weather
But world-walking and shadowless Ajanta.
Hallucination and the metal laugh
In clouds, and the mountain-spectre riding storm.
Nothing was certain but a moment of peace,
A hollow behind the unbreakable waterfall.
All the way to the cave, the teeming forms of death,
And death, the price of the body, cheap as air.
I blessed my heart on the expiation journey
For it had never been unable to suffer.
When I met the man whose face looked like the future,
When I met the whore with the dying red hair
The child myself who is my murderer.
So came I between heaven and my grave,
Past the serene smile of the voyeur, to
This cave where the myth enters the heart again.
You will find the entire poem here