The Bigness of Small Poems – # 15 in a Series – Advice from Rukeyser: Burst Into Flower

Pink Iris

The potflower on the windowsill says to me
In words that are green-edged red leaves :
Flower     flower     flower     flower
Today for the sake of all the dead     Burst into flower.

Muriel Rukeyser, from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, McGraw- Hill, 1982

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) is no stranger to these pages. I included her in a post late last year. To read that post click here.


American Poet Muriel Rukeyser

American Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Rukeyser didn’t write many small poems so it seems odd that for a second time I feature one of her small poems. Small, literally, but metaphorically huge. I don’t want to add much to what already bursts out of this poem, beginning with the title. This poem is a wake up call. A reminder to go for broke. Burst into flower.

And the poem seems somehow, these summer-like days, appropriate to the state of my garden here on Vancouver Island. We are in the midst of a frenzy of flowering. Iris (purple, pink, yellow, white); California lilac, poppies (red, pink, white), wild roses, yellow roses and tree-like rose bushes bursting white, pink and red. And in the picture below, a flowering tree thirty feet tall beside our house, festooned with purple blossoms that are beginning to fall, adding a purple tinge everywhere around it!

Flowering Tree

This call to flower! Yes! No matter the reason. No matter the season.




  1. Liz
    Posted May 21, 2016 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    A powerful poem

    I was so appreciative driving up Island this week how everything wild is flowering. Even the much maligned Broom holds sway, telling me life is golden.

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted May 21, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks Liz! So glad you mentioned the broom. So apt. Glad to recognize their beauty too. So easy to overlook and dismiss! And Full Flower Moon last night! Yes.

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