Rukeyser’s indentations

So, I am curious, why are the lines indented the way they are in Rukeyser’s poem “For My Son”? What is the difference between:

You come from poets, kings, bankrupts, preachers,
attempted bankrupts, builders of cities, salesmen,
the great rabbis, the kings of Ireland, failed drygoods
storekeepers, beautiful women of the songs,
great horsemen, tyrannical fathers at the shore of ocean,
the western mothers lookng west beyond from their
windows,
the families escaping over the sea hurriedly and by night–
the roundtowers of the Celtic violet sunset,
the diseased, the radiant, fliers, men thrown out of town,
the man bribed by his cousins to stay out of town,
teachers, the cantor on Friday evening, the lurid
newspapers,
strong women gracefully holding relationship, the Jewish girl
going to parochial school, the boys racing their iceboats
on the Lakes,
the woman still before the diamond in the velvet window,
saying “Wonder of nature.”

and:

You come from poets, kings, bankrupts, preachers,
attempted bankrupts, builders of cities, salesmen,
the great rabbis, the kings of Ireland, failed drygoods
storekeepers, beautiful women of the songs,
great horsemen, tyrannical fathers at the shore of ocean,
the western mothers lookng west beyond from their
windows,
the families escaping over the sea hurriedly and by night–
the roundtowers of the Celtic violet sunset,
the diseased, the radiant, fliers, men thrown out of town,
the man bribed by his cousins to stay out of town,
teachers, the cantor on Friday evening, the lurid
newspapers,
strong women gracefully holding relationship, the Jewish girl
going to parochial school, the boys racing their iceboats
on the Lakes,
the woman still before the diamond in the velvet window,
saying “Wonder of nature.”

The first thing that I notice is that the indented version of the poem (Ruk’s version) suggests the flow of the poem over time. This is one long sentence, one list of ancestors and their identities, professions, deeds. Since the lines don’t all begin “justified” on the left, the indentations suggest the heterogeneity, even quirkiness of this list, and somehow, for me at least, a sense of time and space–perhaps even generations.

“Space on the page,” Rukeyser wrote in The Life of Poetry, “can provide roughly for a relationship in emphasis through the eye’s discernment of pattern” (117).

The white space at the beginning of lines does not, I think, function as a pause; instead it compels the eyes to move right, and to keep moving with the flow of the indented lines. In addition, many of the lines are enjambed, further compelling eye and ear to move with the sense from one line to the next.

But what do you think? To what extent does indentation function as “punctuation” in this poem? And how is it a “physical indication of the body-rhythms which the reader is to acknowledge” (The Life of Poetry, 117). And how do we, as readers, acknowledge these “body-rhythms”?

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