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Poetry Month

Made of Stories

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Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist, was born on December 15, 1913.

She lived in Westbeth at Bethune and West Streets in the West Village.

Her words will tell you more about her than anything I can write:

"To be a Jew in the Twentieth Century" (1944)
To be a Jew in the twentieth century
Is to be offered a gift. If you refuse,
Wishing to be invisible, you choose
Death of the spirit, the stone insanity.
Accepting, take full life. Full agonies:
Your evening deep in labyrinthine blood
Of those who resist, fail, and resist; and God
Reduced to a hostage among hostages.
The gift is torment. Not alone the still
Torture, isolation; or torture of the flesh.
That may come also. But the accepting wish,
The whole and fertile spirit as guarantee
For every human freedom, suffering to be free,
Daring to live for the impossible.

And the brilliant:

The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

Her papers can be found in the Berg Collection.

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