A book by Muriel Rukeyser containing this poem by the same name.

Other poems in this book include:
The Conjugation of the Paramecium, For My Son, The Backside of the Academy, Poem, The Overthrow of One O'clock at Night, The Poem As Mask, Orgy, Käthe Kollwitz, Double Dialogue, The Outer Banks, What I see and Anemone.

The book, published in 1968 was written after the author had suffered a stroke in 1964.

The ninth stanza is one of my favorite bits of poetry.

The Speed Of Darkness


Whoever despises the clitoris despises the penis
Whoever despises the penis despises the cunt
Whoever despises the cunt despises the life of the child.

Resurrection music,     silence,     and surf.


No longer skeaking
Listening with the whole body
And with every drop of blood
Overtaken by silence  
But this same silence is become speech
With the speed of darkness.  


Stillness during war, the lake.
The unmoving spruces.
Glints over the water.
Faces, voices.     You are far away.
A tree that trembles and trembles.


After the lifting of the mist
after the heavy rains
the sky stands clear
and the cries of the city risen in day
I remember the buildings are space
walled, to let space be used for living
I mind this room is space
whose boundary of glass
lets me give you drink and space to drink
your hand, my hand being space
containing skies and constellations
your face carries the reaches of air
I know I am space
my words are the air.


Between     between
the man  :  act     exact
woman  :  in curve     senses in their maze
frail orbits, green tries,     games of stars
shar of the body speaking its evidence


I look across at the real
vulnerable     involved     naked
devoted to the present of all I care for
the world of history leading to this moment.


Life is the announcer.
I assure you
there are many ways to have a child.
I bastard mother
promise you
there are many ways to be born.
They all come forth
in their own grace.


Ends of the earth join tonight
with blazing stars upon thier meeting.

These sons,      these sons
fall burning into Asia.


Time comes into it.
Say it.     Say it.
The universe is made of stories,
not of atoms.


blazing beside me
you rear beautifully up—
your thinking face—
erotic body reaching
in all its colors and lights—
your erotic face
colored and lit—
not colored body-and-face
but now entire,
colors     lights     the world of thinking and reaching.


The river flows past the city.

Water goes down to tomorrow
making its children     I hear their unborn voices
I am working out the vocabulary of my silence.


Big-boned man young and of my dream
Struggles to get the live brid out of his throat.
I am he am I?     Dreaming?
I am the bird am I?     I am the throat?

A brid with a curved beak.
It could slit anything, the throat-bird.

Drawn up slowly.     The curved blades, not large.
Bird emerges     wet     being born
Begins to sing.


My night awake
staring at the broad rough jewel
the copper roof across the way
thinking of the poet
yet unborn in this dark
who will be the throat of these hours.
No.     Of those hours.
Who will speak these days,
if not I,
if not you?

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