New York: Current Books, A.A. Wyn, 1949. Octavo, original beige cloth stamped in red, original unclipped dust jacket with Lotte Jacobi's portrait of Rukeyser on back panel. Tiny chips to jacket corners and spine ends, small closed tears repaired with tape on verso.
First edition of poet Muriel Rukeyser's deeply felt political defense of poetry, based on lectures she gave at Vassar College, the California Labor School, and Columbia University throughout the 1940s. Rukeyser identifies a “fear of poetry" in midcentury American life, connecting that fear to the anxiety produced by the demands of participatory democracy: “this fear presents the symptoms of a psychic problem. A poem does invite, it does require. What does it invite? It invites you to feel. More than that: it invites you to respond. And better than that: a poem invites a total response." A near-fine copy of an influential book.