Sunday, December 15, 2019

More or Less Mad for Similar Reasons

POEM (I lived in the first century of world wars)

Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

* Muriel Rukeyser, born 106 years ago today, this poem written in 1968



Muriel Rukeyser

We set great wreaths of brightness on the graves of the passionate
who required tribute of hot July flowers—
for you, O brittle-hearted, we bring offering
remembering how your wrists were thin and your delicate bones
not yet braced for conquering.
The sharp cries of ghost-boys are keen above the meadows,
and little girls continue graceful and wondering.
Flickering evening on the lakes recalls those young
heirs whose developing years have sunk to earth,
their strength not tested, their praise unsung.
Weave grasses for their childhood—who will never see
love or disaster or take sides against decay
balancing the choices of maturity.
Silent and coffined in silence while we pass
loud in defiance of death, the helpless lie.


  1. a line of dialogue from the man in the high castle - season 3, episode 7

    we've been living under the fascists so long that people think it's normal, that it's always been this way - but it hasn't

  2. The fourth link isn't working. A liberal centrist is the same as a Republican which is the same as a fascist. I didn't make up that statement, read it somewhere, but I think it's accurate.

  3. One aspect of PTSD is the very nature of trauma. We become almost fond of familiar associations that trigger reactions, and lead to behavior we believe puts us in balance and makes us safe. Marketing folk could explain it more succinctly, but the news-as-entertainment crowd know it, too.