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The lyric poet of epic awareness.

The Washington Post

Muriel Rukeyser

American poet and activist

Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980), described by The New York Times as “a brilliant mind fiercely at work,” was the author of several collections of poetry, plays, fiction, biographies, children’s stories, a book-length manifesto on poetry, and a libretto for a musical about Houdini.


Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser

with a contribution by Christoph Keller and Jan Heller Levi

First published by New Directions in 1949, Muriel Rukeyser’s Elegies were written over a seven-year period from the end of the Spanish Civil War, through World War II, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, to the start of the Cold War. Both an homage to Rilke’s Duino Elegies and a spiritual reckoning that is particularly resonant today, these poems present no angelic orders, only the difficulties of living in the modern world, the depths of shipwreck, and “Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all.”