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As you might understand by now, I like the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser, and to no small degree. We’re going to take one last look at her, with a few particularly beautiful lines that might give the reader an idea of the general direction of her poetry.

In my opinion, Rukeyser is there with the greatest English-speaking poets of the 20th century, somewhat unjustly forgotten, probably because her life’s story is not as sensational as, say, that of Sylvia Plath. Her poetry alone, though, is among my favorites of all time.

So, enjoy. And probably grab a copy of her work, should you find it. They’re certainly a worthwhile read.

Theatre costume for the opera ‘The Mask of Orpheus’ by Jocelyn Herbert, 1986.

 

The Poem as Mask

Orpheus

When I wrote of the women in their dances and 
      wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
      down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
      myself.

There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
      child
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.

 

 

Text taken from HERE.

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