Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Poem as Mask

Orpheus

When I wrote of the women in their dances and 
      wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, god-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
      down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
      myself.
	  
There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
      child
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.

Credit


From Muriel Rukeyser: Selected Poems by Muriel Rukeyser. Published by Library of America (American Poets Project). Copyright © 2004 by William Rukeyser. Reprinted by permission of William Rukeyser. All rights reserved.

Author


Muriel Rukeyser

Born in 1913, Muriel Rukeyser drew on many different sources of inspiration and used her poetry as a mode of social protest.

Date Published: 2004-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poem-mask