“Do you remember the poems of your early childhood—the far rhymes and games of the beginning to which you called the rhythms, the little songs to which you woke and went to sleep? Yes, we remember them,” writes Muriel Rukeyser in “The Fear of Poetry,” the first chapter in this collection of essays that makes a case for the centrality of poetry in American life. In this 1949 American classic, reprinted in 1996 by Paris Press and with a foreword by poet Jane Cooper, Rukeyser explores the presence of poetry in our everyday lives and its lasting importance in forming a civil society. “A poem does invite, it does require. What does it invite? A poem invites you to feel. More than that: it invites you to respond. And better than that: a poem invites a total response,” writes Rukeyser. For both experienced writers and those interested in forming a closer relationship with poetry, The Life of Poetry instructs and dares the reader to be changed by its words.
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