BREAKING OPEN by Muriel Rukeyser


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This is a fine collection of poems by a tough woman whose heart is on the right side. She can write long rather didactic poems on man's inhumanity to man (particularly re Vietnam), but she can also be as silly as any poet going today: ""I lie in the bath and I contemplate the toilet-paper:/ Scottissue, 1000 sheets--/ What a lot of pissin and shittin,/ Enough for the poems of Shelley and Keats."" As for her love poems, they lay to rest the fears of those who think they're getting older, not better. Occasionally her ideas swamp sensibility with a kind of structural repetition -- ""When they're kind to whores, they're death on communists,/ When they respect communists, they're foul to bastards,/ When they're human to bastards, they mock at. . ."" -- other times they reach across sticky thoughts to put everything in clear and ironically undercut focus. Who else could still write an interesting poem about Icarus? ""He said he would be back and we'd drink wine together. . ./ He said we were on the verge of a new relation/ He said he would never again cringe before his father/ He said that he was going to invent full-time. . ."" This is an enjoyable book of commonsense poetry illuminated with the grace of a lady who remains one of America's foremost older poets.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1973
Publisher: Random House