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Muriel Rukeyser

Growing out of Muriel Rukeyser’s experience during the Spanish Civil War, the elegy evokes both hope and skepticism about dreaming in a time of defeat. The title alludes to nineteenth-century customs practiced by starving Native Americans, who found hope in ecstatic dancing, anticipating reunions with their dead—customs which, as Rukeyser noted, “have connections with expression in the overrun countries of our own time.” “The Dream-singing Elegy” was later republished as the seventh in a cycle of ten poems (Elegies, 1949). A quotation from it appears in Doctor Atomic, John Adams’ 2005 opera about the Manhattan Project, sung by the skeptical Kitty Oppenheimer.

Winter 1941

Lorca in English

By Muriel Rukeyser

Blood Wedding. A Tragedy by F. Garcia Lorca. Translated by Gilbert Neiman. New Directions. 50 cents Poems. F. Garcia Lorca. Translated by Stephen Spender and J. L. Gili. Selection and […]

Summer 1943

Nearer to the Well-Spring

By Muriel Rukeyser

Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke. Translated by M. D. Herter Norton. Norton. $2.50. These latter (the Duino Elegies) were begun in 1912 (at Duino), continued—fragmentarily—in Spain and Paris […]

Autumn 1939

A Turning Wind

By Muriel Rukeyser

Knowing the shape of the country. Knowing the midway travels                  of migrant fanatics, living that life, up with the dawn andmoving as long as the light lasts, and when the sun […]