Give Me Love Or Nothing

Muriel Rukeyser (1913 – 1980)


O for God’s sake
they are connected

They look at each other
across the glittering sea
some keep a low profile

Some are cliffs
The Bathers think
islands are separate like them

-Muriel Rukeyser

I’m Really Very Fond of You

by Alice Walker

I’m really very fond of you,
he said.

I don’t like fond.
It sounds like something
you would tell a dog.

Give me love,
or nothing.

Throw your fond in a pond,
I said.

But what I felt for him
was also warm, frisky,
and could swim away.

if forced to do so.

Give me love or nothing; there’s a sentiment I can agree with.   Muriel Rukeyser was a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and a mentor of Alice Walker.  I also agree with Walker, Rukeyser is an under appreciated poet of the 20th Century.  Sometimes greatness is not in what we produce as art.  Rukeyser produced lots of great art, but she also produced greatness by her  example, by her teaching or by her encouragement. Alice Walker was deeply inspired by Rukeyser as a mentor, feminist, thinker and artist.  As Black History Month comes to a close on this leap year day February 29th, take a leap backwards with me from Walker to Rukeyser.  Walker, who is by her very nature well spoken, has some profound insights into poetry in the video below.  I highly recommend taking a few minutes and watching it.

Song, The World is Full of Loss

by Muriel Rukeyser

The world is full of loss; bring, wind, my love,
   .            ,  my home is where we make our meeting-place,
        .       .  and love whatever I shall touch and read
     .         .  within that face.

Lift, wind, my exile from my eyes;
 .        .  peace to look, life to listen and confess,
       .      freedom to find to find to find
     .       . that nakedness.