Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Rite" by Muriel Rukeyser


My father groaned; my mother wept.
Among the mountains of the west
A deer lifted her golden throat.

They tore the pieces of the kill
While two dark sisters laughed and sang.—
The hidden lions blare until

The hunters charge and burn them all.
And in the black apartment halls
Of every city in the land

A father groans; a mother weeps;
A girl to puberty has come;
They shriek this, this is the crime

The gathering of the powers in.
At this first sign of her next life
America is stricken dumb.

The sharpening of your rocky knife!
The first blood of a woman shed!
The sacred word: Stand Up You Dead.

Mothers go weep; let fathers groan,
The flag of infinity is shown.
Now you will never be alone.

Source of the text - Muriel Rukeyser, Out of Silence: Selected Poems.  Evanston, IL: TriQuarterly Books, p.114.

TJB: This stripped-down paratactic & apposite archetype-lyric archly conflates sacrifice [to please god], puberty [which does what?], & America.

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