Selections from Muriel Rukeyser’s "The Life of Poetry"

On the "Uses" of Poetry

  What help is there here?     Poetry is above all, an approach to the truth of feeling, and what is the use of truth?        How do we use feeling?     How do we use truth?        

What help is there here? 

Poetry is above all, an approach to the truth of feeling, and
what is the use of truth? 

 

How do we use feeling? 

How do we use truth? 

 

 

 

Everywhere we are told that our human resources are all to be used, that our civilization itself means the uses of everything it has—the inventions, histories, every scrap of fact. But there is one kind of knowledge—infinitely precious, time-resistant, more than monuments, here to be passed between generations in any way it may be: never to be used. And that is poetry. 

 

…it is time to remember this other kind of knowledge and love, which has forever been a way of reaching complexes of emotion and relationship…the attitude that might equip our imaginations to deal with our lives—the attitude of poetry. 

 

Always we need the audacity to speak for more freedom, more imagination, more poetry with all its meanings. 

 

On the Fear of Poetry

 

Grammar and criticism need not destroy; but they will, if words are raised above language, if criticism is projected by the critic’s lack, if a dry perfectionism is substituted for the creative life. 

 

But the reality of all of the arts is that of imagination. The fear of poetry is an indication that we are cut off from our own reality. 

 

The fear that cuts off poetry is profound: it plunges us deep, far back to the edge of childhood. Beyond that it does not go. Little children do not have this fear, they trust their emotions.

 

The universe of poetry is the universe of emotional truth. Our material is the way we feel and the way we remember. 

 

On Poetry and Art

 

Art is action, but it does not cause action: rather, it prepares us for thought. 

 

About Cezanne: [His] trees are not what trees look like, they are what trees feel like. 

 

Poetry is made by the hand of the poet, and if we read the poem, we take the imaginative experience through the eyes with a shadow of sound; if we hear it, we take it through the ears, with a shadow of sight.

 

There is another kind of poverty. It has nothing to do with any kind of "impoverishment." The other kind of poverty depends on a moment when everything is given. It is the human moment of equilibrium, and can hardly be separated from the renewal that is beginning. It comes in every profoundly human relationship; under this aspect, writing is only another way of giving--a courtesy, if you will, and a form of love.

 

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please enjoy this gift i give to you today, dear reader. may it inspire you to feeling. 

<3 <3 <3!! m