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Poem titled The Drowning Young Man by Muriel Rukeyser

Date: Identifier: 1169-014.11.a
Typescript of a poem written by Muriel Rukeyser date: ca. March 1940 more...

The Drowning Young Man

The drowning young man lifted his face from the river

to me, exhausted from calling for help and weeping;

"My love!" I said; but he kissed me once for ever

and returned to his privacy and secret keeping.

His close face dripped with the attractive water,

I stared in his eyes and saw there penalty,

for the city moved and made music, loud about us,

and the salt air blew down ; but he would face the sea.

"Afraid, afraid, my love?" But he will never speak,

looking demands for rest, watching the wave come up,

too timid to turn, too loving to cry out,

lying in the tide, biting his nervous lip.

Take him by his shoulder and jaw, break his look back on us,

O hard to save, be saved, before we all shall drown ;

But he has set his look, plunged his life deep for peace,

his face in the boiling river, and is surrendered down.

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