Effort at Speech Between Two People

Effort at Speech Between Two People by Muriel Rukeyser

Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit
who died, in the story, and I crawled under a chair :
a pink rabbit : it was my birthday, and a candle
burnt a sore spot on my finger, and I was told to be happy.

Oh, grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open:
Now I am thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitily sentimental,
fluid : and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I bent my head to the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would
link the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
on what a tragedy his life was, really.

Take my hand. Fist my mind in your hand. What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had dreams of suicide,
I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward death :
if the light had not melted clouds and plains to beauty,
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth : I love you. Grow to know me.

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle . . . yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving . . . Take my hand. Speak to me.

An elegant relaunch of Muriel Rukeyser’s Elegies, previously available only in a limited edition, celebrates the centennial of her birth “Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest.” Muriel Rukeyser, Elegy in Joy First published by New Directions in 1949, Muriel Rukeyser s Elegies were written over a seven years period the end of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the beginnings of the Cold War. Both and 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.