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Poetic synthesis : a study of form and subject in the poetry of Marianne Moore Shelbourn, Judith Anne Blakeston 1967

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POETIC SYNTHESIS: A STUDY OF FORM AND SUBJECT IN THE POETRY OF MARIANNE MOORE by  JUDITH ANNE BLAKESTON SHELBOUHN". B. A., University of Western Ontario, 1959 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of ENGLISH  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required  standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June, I967  In p r e s e n t i n g an  this  thesis  in p a r t i a l  advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y  the  Library  I further for  shall  agree  make i t f r e e l y that permission  s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may  by  h i s representatives.  of  this  written  thesis  be g r a n t e d  gain  shall  of British  Columbia  2075 W e s b r o o k P l a c e V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1W5  /^2yQ  .  /  ^y 7 7  I agree  that  that  study.  copying of this  by t h e Head o f my  It i s understood  for financial  Columbia,  f o r r e f e r e n c e and  for extensive  Department o f  Date  of B r i t i s h  available  permission.  The U n i v e r s i t y  f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r  thesis  Department o r  copying or p u b l i c a t i o n  n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t  my  Abstract One of the popular trends of modern l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m has emphasized the unity of form and subject as a f i r s t p r i n c i p l e of a poem.  Marianne Moore  provides a thoroughly s o l i d example of t h i s p r i n c i p l e i n much of her poetry; the moral themes of her poems are r e f l e c t e d i n her precise handling of the craftmanship of the poetic form. I t i s the purpose of t h i s essay to review Miss Moore s poetry within ,  the implication of the phrase "poetic synthesis". work  In order f o r her poems to r  f o r a l l l e v e l s of c r i t i c a l d i r e c t i o n , that i s language, metre, rhyme,  metaphor, symbol, and philosophic,—and  i n her p a r t i c u l a r caser- moral, theme,  the reader must be aware of the singular unity of the poems.  In other words,  each of the facets of the constructed prism - poem r e f l e c t s by i t s construction the l i g h t which comes the creative source of the poet: the act of the statement i s the essence of the statement.  This idea i s the c o n t r o l l i n g method of t h i s  p a r t i c u l a r t h e s i s : the work dealt with includes a range of material from f i f t y years of Miss Moore's p u b l i c a t i o n of her poetry.  For the most part, selections  from her Collected Poems provide the basis of discussion.  No attempt i s made  to asses her work chronologically since the selections i n the Collected Poems contain works that w i l l have a f i x e d importance regardless of t h e i r time sequence. The f i r s t chapter o f f e r s a close reading of poems i n terms of the concept  ii  of the poetic synthesis.  References are made to the d e l i b e r a t e l y controlled  metric and s y l l a b i c system which i s found i n most of her works as well as to the many types of rhyme that contribute to the s t r u c t u r a l unity o f the poem. Some mention i s made of the moral themes which occur i n many of the works, often with reference to the armoured" metaphor of which she i s so fond. The w  second chapter suggests some comparisons between Miss Moore and several of her contemporary w r i t e r s ; William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens, to show how, against the Imagist background, each of these poets projects a part i c u l a r concern i n both technique and theme. No mention has been made of Miss Moore's most recent p u b l i c a t i o n since the thesis had been written and approved before i t s appearance.  Contents  1.  Introduction  P*  2.  Chapter One  p. 12  3.  Chapter Two  P. 34  k.  Chapter Three  p. 48  5.  Conclusion  p. 64  6.  Bibliography  p. 69  INTRODUCTION There are those who w i l l talk for an hour without telling you why they have come. And I? This i s no madrigal... no medieval gradual. It i s a grateful tale,,, without that radiance which poets are supposed to have,,, unofficial, unprofessional. S t i l l one need not f a i l to wish poetry well where intellect i s habitual,,, glad that the Muses have a home and swans... that legend can be factual; happy that Art, admired i n general, i s always actually personal, (A Marianne Moore Reader, p. 73) Marianne Moore has commented often about the experience of poetry i n terms not only of her personal justification to write but also as the creative force of other poets.  Her reflections concerning c r i t i c s and c r i t i c a l l i t e r a -  ture are available i n several of her poems, such as ""Critics and Connoisseurs", and i n her numerous reviews and articles i n The Dial and i n more recent journals.  The poem, from which this excerpt i s taken, written to commemorate  a Boston Arts Festival i n 1958, i s perhaps not one of her better poems although i t i s not necessarily "unofficial, unprofessional.  w  But i t does as  Miss Moore bids i t - i t wishes poetry well i n an atmosphere which she knows i s conducive to Art and to Learning,  The f i n a l two lines offer the focal  point of the entire poem - lines i n which the essence of the poem i s made crystal clear - and two lines which may be considered indicative of how the  -2poetry of Marianne Moore ought t o be received by the perceptive reader. . . . A r t , admired i n general i s always a c t u a l l y personal. One may assume t h a t the poet i s r e f e r r i n g t o both the a r t i s t ' s and the readerfe r e l a t i o n s h i p to the p a r t i c u l a r created work of a r t . Here she seems t o be s t r e s s i n g the i n d i v i d u a l response to the t h i n g , an a t t i t u d e which i s r e i n f o r c e d by her own a r t i n c r e a t i v e poetry and c r i t i c a l essay. Miss Moore has never been one to l i m i t h e r s e l f to the r i g i d t a s t e of a fashionable school or s t y l e of c r i t i c a l a n a l y s i s .  The values t h a t she seeks  i n the work of others are the ones she e x t o l s i n her own verse: i n t e g r i t y , p r e c i s i o n , and s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e .  She i s a m o r a l i s t of a strong C h r i s t i a n  f i b r e ; hence, the reader i s struck by her uncompromising i n s i s t e n c e on s e l f d i s c i p l i n e as a necessary q u a l i t y f o r man i f he i s t o survive meaningfully. She i s an a r t i s t whose purpose i s s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n and communication, or communion; such a purpose demands i n t e g r i t y so t h a t the need t o express what i s meaningful to her as a poet does not overwhelm the means of the expression.  I n s h o r t , a d i s c i p l i n e d command of the techniques of poetry are  as necessary t o her as i s the compulsion to r e l a t e an i d e a . She has s a i d t h a t , "One w r i t e s because one has a burning d e s i r e to o b j e c t i f y what i s indispensable t o one's happiness t o express.  w  I n other  words, one removes from the i n t e n s e l y s u b j e c t i v e grasp of possession an observance, an experience, which w i l l e x i s t more p u r p o s e f u l l y f o r the poet when he sets i t apart from h i m s e l f , when he makes i t more r e a d i l y communicable to another.  The a r t of o b j e c t i f y i n g demands a s e l e c t i o n of d e t a i l , a r e -  s t r i c t i o n of the superfluous, a d e n i a l of the wholly emotional s e l f i n order to present the experience honestly.  Miss Moore's h a b i t i s t o s e l e c t an a c t i v e  -3-  experience, such as a v i s i t to a racetrack, or the contemplation of a v i s u a l object, an animal or an objet d'art, a l l of which i l l u s t r a t e a moral or v i r t u e that she considers important.  The whole idea behind the creation of  a poem and the method used t o carry the poem through are e s s e n t i a l l y paradoxical:  Miss Moore f e e l s strongly about the necessity of c e r t a i n q u a l i t i e s  i n v i o l a b l y a p a r t of a moral existence - her b e l i e f i s intensely personal and i s the motivating force of many of her poems.  On the other hand, her  method i s contained i n her phrase "a burning desire to objectify** - to remove h e r s e l f from the s u b j e c t i v i t y of the ""happiness"*.  Thus, the experiences or  descriptions of her poems serve as a means of removing herself as the sole p a r t i c i p a n t and sharing the immediacy and i n t e n s i t y of her experience with the reader.  Notably, she places the same amount of emphasis on the importance  of the creative impulse "indispensable to one's happiness to express" and the method "a burning d e s i r e to o b j e c t i f y " . A further paradox concerns the technical aspects of her method: that i s , the o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of a natural phenomenon; the d e s c r i p t i o n - accurately and minutely d e t a i l e d - of a piece of tapestry, an animal, a seaside town, a horse race; the impression, p r i m a r i l y auditory, that the movement of the poem i s more attuned to the language of the essay.  There i s a freedom of  technique that i s r e s t r i c t e d only by the poet's need to shape her images by precise d e t a i l s , but there i s a r e a l i z a t i o n that l i n e lengths are t i g h t l y controlled by numbers of s y l l a b l e s and that there i s a s k i l f u l pattern of rhyme: assonance and half-rhyme somewhat i n the t r a d i t i o n of Emily Dickinson, a l l i t e r a t i o n and v i v i d metaphor reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins. What  the reader f i n d s i n her poetry, then, i s a s t y l e which i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by a c o n t r o l l e d freedom of expression and a thematic p a t t e r n of symbolic i n c i d e n t s and objects which cloak a deep concern f o r the moral nature of man.  What  Marianne Moore i s able to do, and why she i s worthy of general and p r i v a t e admiration, i s t o i n t e g r a t e the thematic and s t y l i s t i c f i b r e s of the a r t i s t i c process so p r e c i s e l y and so l u c i d l y t h a t her poems become statements about values t h a t are exemplified i n the nature of the poems themselves. A new poet has commented once again t h a t a poem i s i t s own metaphor, what a s u c c i n c t way t o describe the r e a l merit of Marianne Moore.  As the  words composing a metaphor are the outward s i g h of i t s inner meaning, so the s t r u c t u r a l form on the page and the p a t t e r n of the words are the v i s i b l e source of the i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional understanding of the whole poem. Her compact r e l a t i o n s h i p of i d e a and form i s the source of her economy which leads the reader not t o guess at what she might have s a i d but t o consider the aptness and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of what she d i d say.  The bulk of her poetry seems  to f o l l o w her p o l i c y of r e s t r a i n t - of l i m i t a t i o n i n the poem t o one object of e x p l o r a t i o n which c a l l s upon the i n d i v i d u a l ' s resources of sensual as w e l l as i n t e l l e c t u a l a p p r e c i a t i o n . The poetry f o r which she i s p o p u l a r l y known i s t h a t which deals w i t h animals and r a r e objects - a r t i f a c t s , i n a sense. metaphors of the poems:  The t i t l e s i n d i c a t e the  "The Jerboa", "Nine Nectarines", "The F i s h " , "A  Grave", "Snakes, Mongooses", "The P a n g o l i n " , "A Carriage from Sweden".  A  second c a t e g o r i z i n g would separate those poems whose t i t l e s suggest more e x p l i c i t l y the moral theme t h a t i s t o be explored: " I n This Age of Hard Trying", "Poetry", " C r i t i c s and Connoisseurs", "In the Days of P r i s m a t i c Colour", "People's Surroundings", " I n j u d i c i o u s Gardening", "The Mind i s an Enchanting Thing" and so f o r t h .  This second d i v i s i o n of her poetry i s ,  -5however, g r e a t l y l i m i t e d i n t h a t q u i t e o f t e n the t i t l e i s p a r t o f the f i r s t l i n e o f the poem so t h a t the c e n t r a l symbolic image o f the poem i s revealed i n the opening statement o f the poem. Thus, the poem,"The Mind i s an Enchanting Thing*" says i n i t s f i r s t l i n e " i s an enchanted t h i n g / l i k e the glaze on a/katydid-wing ; w  despite the i m p l i c a t i o n of the t i t l e , the o b j e c t i f y i n g  device i s employed i n the complete statement so t h a t one fastens upon the s i m i l e o f the i n s e c t as w e l l as upon the more personal suggestion o f the enchanting power o f the mind.  Occasionally there i s l i t t l e attempt t o gain  t h i s o b j e c t i v e distance between the poet and the experience, as i n ""Poetry**, " C r i t i c s and Connoisseurs* , 1  "Keeping Their World Large" as w e l l as s e v e r a l o f  her more recent works which w i l l be discussed l a t e r . The poem which best i d e n t i f i e s the philosophy o f her poetry i s 3  "Poetry",  a f a v o r i t e o f a n t h o l o g i s t s as a d e f i n i t i v e statement o f Miss  Moore*s k i n d o f poetry.  I n t h i s poem, she stresses the need f o r the genuine,  I n c l u d i n g the phenomena t h a t we can -"^business documents and schoolbooks*** and cannot "a w i l d horse t a k i n g a r o l l " understand.  She cautions, however,  against the half-poet who drags such phenomena i n t o prominence} a poet must be r e s p o n s i b l e , she r e p l i e s "above insolence and t r i v i a l i t y " ; he must be a " • l i t e r a l i s t ( s ) o f the imagination*" and thus able t o present t o the reader "imaginary gardens w i t h r e a l toads i n them". The poem i t s e l f meets the r e quirements o f Miss Moore's p o e t i c e t h i c ; the poem i s a metaphor, an imaginary garden o f i r o n i c references t o creatures whose behavior i s i n e x p l i c a b l e and to readers who are m i l d l y contemptuous o f the value o f poetry.  The meaning,  the moral source o f the poem, o f f e r s a credo f o r the poet: the world o f outward appearances as described i n the poem must be j u s t i f i e d by the purpose o f  -6-  t h e poem, which i n t h i s c a s e i s t o defend p o e t r y , as a genuine p a r t o f man's e x p e r i e n c e . I n t h e poem M i s s Moore has borrowed a p h r a s e f r o m W.B. commented t h a t W i l l i a m B l a k e was  Teats  who  a "too l i t e r a l r e a l i s t o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n " ,  an i d e a t h a t she has condensed t o " r e a l i s t o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n " . i n t e r e s t i n g p o i n t t o n o t e t h a t one o f Y e a t s * p o e t i c statements  I t i s an  about a r t ,  " L a p i s L a z u l i " s h a r e s s e v e r a l f e a t u r e s w i t h " P o e t r y " : t h e mood o f i r o n i c  con-  t e m p l a t i o n , r e f e r e n c e s t o t h e mocking r e a d e r i n t h e opening l i n e s , as i n Yeats I have heard t h a t h y s t e r i c a l women say They a r e s i c k o f t h e p a l e t t e and f i d d l e - b o w ^ w h i c h i n M i s s Moore becomes tE, t o o , d i s l i k e i t ; t h e r e a r e t h i n g s t h a t a r e i m p o r t a n t beyond a l l this fiddle. The v a l u e s o f t h e i n t e l l i g e n t response o f t h e r e a d e r and t h e i m m o r t a l i t y o f t h e c r e a t e d a r t a r e s t r e s s e d by Y e a t s and a r e n o t o u t o f p l a c e i n M i s s Moore's t h i n k i n g , a l t h o u g h one i s impressed more by her poem as a d e f e n s e o f an a r t f o r m i n a modern w o r l d t h a t i s i n s e a r c h o f t h e  genuine.  I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o n o t e here as a means o f i n t r o d u c i n g t h e p o e t i c s e n s i b i l i t y and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f Marianne Moore t h a t she has been w i t h o t h e r t a s k s than t h e w r i t i n g o f p o e t r y .  concerned  Her y e a r s as t h e e d i t o r o f  The D i a l were p r o d u c t i v e ones f o r t h a t pit&iicafeion.  Her most r e c e n t ambitious  e f f o r t , o t h e r t h a n t o t r y t o choose a name f o r t h e F o r d p r o d u c t t h a t  later  became t h e i l l - f a t e d E d s e l , has been a t r a n s l a t i o n , v a r i o u s l y r e c e i v e d , o f La F o n t a i n e ' s f a b l e s ; i n 1962  she p u b l i s h e d a d r a m a t i c comedy The  adapted f r o m t h e n o v e l by M a r i a Edgeworth.  Absentee  Various p u b l i c a t i o n s , r e c e n t l y  the s l i c k magazines, feature a r t i c l e s by her or about her5 a recent (December, 1965) issue of McCall*s featured "An Interview with Marianne Moore", and Harper's flaunted on i t s cover "Ten Answers: Marianne Moore".  A l l this  i s by way of suggesting that Marianne Moore takes an i n t e r e s t i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g not only i n the current a f f a i r s of l i t e r a t u r e but also i n topics not related or l i m i t e d to the animal world which had become the trademark of her poetry. We have i n her a poet who writes a u t h o r i t a t i v e l y about what she thinks i s important i n a world that she observes both through her extensive reading and her association with many people. This i s not to suggest, however, that Miss Moore i s a s o c i a l c r i t i c i n the narrow understanding of the phrase since her observations involve things and ideas that may suggest an aspect of universal man, Adam as he should be, rather than man as a member of a p a r t i c u l a r society.  In h i s pro-  f i l e of Miss Moore i n The New Yorker, WInthrop Sergeant i n speaking of her verse described i t as, * devoid of anything approaching passionate warmth toward her f e l l o w man; indeed her fellow man very seldom appears  i n i t at a l l . 6  By such a remark, Mr. Sergeant reveals a shallow understanding of the underl y i n g metaphor of a great number of her poems i n which the object or creature being discussed serves as the i l l u s t r a t i o n of the moral v i r t u e which the poet f e e l s i s important to man.  Occasionally her concern overrides her customary  method of o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n as i n "What Are Years?" and "In D i s t r u s t of Merits" i n w hich her plea f o r humanity becomes impassioned.  Generally, the " r e a l  toads" are unconcerned with sentiment; even the imaginary garden i s not a chaotic wilderness but a formal arrangement of hedges and geometric beds of  b r i g h t flowerst  Wallace Fowlie i n the i s s u e of The Quarterly Review of  L i t e r a t u r e devoted, t o Marianne Moore r e f e r r e d to her o b j e c t i v e d e s c r i p t i o n as characterized by her candor and her emotion marked by her r e t i c e n c e . One might suggest t h a t i t i s not r e t i c e n c e t h a t accounts f o r the customary l a c k of overt passion i n her consideration of a t o p i c , but rather her undisguised d i s i n t e r e s t i n i t .  She sees her subject, and endeavours to have her  reader achieve the same freedom, w i t h unprejudiced eyes and w i t h a mind armed w i t h honest f a c t .  Miss Moore h e r s e l f notes that the a r t of w r i t i n g requires 8  t h a t one must have c l a r i t y , and c l a r i t y depends on p r e c i s i o n . " M  Precision  i n t h i s case r e f e r s not only to e x p l i c i t n e s s of t h i n k i n g , but to exactness of metaphor and neatness i n handling language. One of her f i n e s t poems "The Pangolin" (p. 118) i n terms of a harmonic and p r e c i s e synthesis of a l l aspects of the poem - mood, thought, and technique - describes the pangolin o b j e c t i v e l y and v i v i d l y , making use of unexpected but h i g h l y s u i t a b l e comparisons. Compact l i k e the f u r l e d fringed f r i l l on the hat-brim of Gargallo*s hollow i r o n head of a matador, he w i l l drop and w i l l then walk away unhurt, In the seventh stanza she makes man,  f o r whom the pangolin i s a symbol, an  apparent f i g u r e i n the poem, and i n the eighth, she speaks d i r e c t l y of him bearing i n mind p a r t i c u l a r comparable aspects of both p a r t s of her metaphor. Bedizened or s t a r k naked, man, the s e l f , the being we c a l l human, w r i t i n g master t o t h i s world, g r i f f o n s a dark •Like does not l i k e l i k e t h a t i s obnoxious*; and w r i t e s e r r o r w i t h four r*s. Among animals, one has a sense of humour. Humour saves a few steps, i t saves years. Unignorant  -9-  mod.est and unemotional, and a l l emotion, he has everlasting vigour, power to grow, though there are few creatures who can make one breathe f a s t e r and make one erecter. There are no powerful appeals f o r an emotional appraisal of either man pangolin. man;  The f i r s t three l i n e s of t h i s passage l i s t man  or  as he appears to  "writing-master to t h i s world** i s a l i t t l e i r o n i c as are the next  several l i n e s which mock h i s love of i n t r i c a t e juxtapositions of words and his i n a b i l i t y to s p e l l a simple wordi either man  In the s i x t h l i n e "one* may 1  r e f e r to  or pangolin since the following d e s c r i p t i o n i s applicable to both,  although her reference to humour c l e a r l y indicates that i t i s of man p a r t i c u l a r l y that she speaks.  Devoid of passion her d e s c r i p t i o n may  be, but i t s  function i s to stimulate an appraisal of man*s p o t e n t i a l as i t appears to her as "everlasting vigour/power to grow". What has been indicated so f a r i n t h i s introduction to t h i s thesis i s that those q u a l i t i e s which are to be examined most c l o s e l y here are those which set the poet apart from her contemporaries and which make her work highly i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c .  What we admire immediately i n reading her work i s  the use that she makes of language and the ease with which she etches an object f o r us to see. we may  What we do not see as immediately perhaps, although  f e e l i t i n s t i n c t i v e l y , i s the p r e c i s i o n of d e t a i l e d attention to  technical i n t r i c a c i e s which underly the often prosaic sentence structure of the stanzas.  Furthermore, we are not always aware of the wholeness of the  i n d i v i d u a l poem i n which every part succeeds because of i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to some other p a r t .  Language, thought, rhythm, rhyme and a l l t h e i r modifications  merge i n t o a unity - a poetic synthesis that, an armour i n i t s e l f , defies destruction.  -10-  It i s the purpose of this thesis, then, to discuss i n detail the parts of this poetic synthesis, and to consider as well her poetry i n relation to several of her earlier contemporaries.  Finally, i t i s useful  to consider Miss Moore*s position as a poet over the span of half a century of writing from her entrance i n the wake of H.D. and the Imagists to her present stand i n the ebb of academic and beat currents. F i f t y years ago, her approach to poetry, her manipulation of i t s substance, set her apart and ahead as one of the new voices i n American verse. F i f t y years later we are i n a position to assess the bulk of her poetry almost i n terms of i t s resistance to later influences and trends. Miss Moore*s capacity for incorporating erudition, nice selectivity, moral concern, and good taste w i l l always set her apart as a poet to be acknowledged with admiration i n American letters.  FOOTNOTES  Reader  i Marianne Moore, " I d i o s y n c r a s y and T e c h n i q u e , " A Marianne Moore (New Y o r k : The V i k i n g P r e s s , 1961), p . 169. ~  ^TJavid Bromige, "Some Notes Towards a P o e t i c " (mimeographed d i s t r i b u t e d a t a p u b l i c p o e t r y r e a d i n g a t U.B.C., 1964, page 1.)  notes  -\A11 r e f e r e n c e t o t h e p o e t r y o f Marianne Moore w i l l be i n d i c a t e d i n the body o f t h e t h e s i s by t h e page number o f t h e t i t l e o f t h e poem c o n t a i n e d i n C o l l e c t e d Poems p u b l i s h e d i n 1959 t>y t h e M a c m i l l a n Company o f New Y o r k . I f another volume o f h e r work has been used, f u l l b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n w i l l be i n d i c a t e d i n t h e f i r s t r e f e r e n c e t o t h e p a r t i c u l a r work. I n t h i s c a s e , " P o e t r y " appears on page 40 o f C o l l e c t e d Poems.  4 Notes t o " P o e t r y " , i b i d . , p .  157.  "V. B. Y e a t s , °Lapid L a z u l i , " A L i t t l e T r e a s u r y o f Modern P o e t r y , Oscar W i l l i a m s , e d i t o r (New York* S c r i F n e r s , 1952), p . 7$T ^Winthrop S e r g e a n t , " H u m i l i t y , C o n c e n t r a t i o n , and Gusto," The Y o r k e r , XXXII, ( F e b r u a r y 16,  New  1957), P. 40.  7 W a l l a c e F o w l i e , "Under t h e E q u a n i m i t y o f Language," Q. R. L., IV,  2, p . 175. 8  Marianne Moore, " I d i o s y n c r a s y and Technique, "A Marianne Moore Reader, op. c i t . , p . 171. —  -12-  CHAPTER ONE Of p r i m e i m p o r t a n c e i n t h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f M a r i a n n e Moore i s  the  p o e t i c s y n t h e s i s o f theme and t e c h n i q u e t h a t c r e a t e t h e metaphor o f t h e poem. As has been suggested e a r l i e r , t h e poem " P o e t r y " demands " i m a g i n a r y gardens w i t h r e a l t o a d s i n them"; t h a t i s , a poem w h i c h i s t h e p r o p e r t y o f A r t b u t whose e s s e n c e i s R e a l i t y .  Hence, t h e r e a d e r knows t h a t he i s t o be c o n -  f r o n t e d w i t h a poem r o o t e d i n b o t h r e a l i t y and i m a g i n a t i o n ; t h e themes a r e m o r a l o b s e r v a t i o n s t h a t M i s s Moore c o n s i d e r s p a r t o f o n e ' s acknowledgement o f t h e r e a l i t y p e r m e a t i n g man's e x i s t e n c e ; h e r h a n d l i n g o f t h e s e o b s e r v a t i o n s , however, i s done w i t h h e r p e r s o n a l r e s o u r c e s o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n so t h a t garden becomes t h e l y r i c a l a s p e c t o f t h e metaphor. p a r t s o f t h e metaphor, poetry;  the  The s y n t h e s i s o f b o t h  a r t and r e a l i t y , i s t h e key t o t h e e x c e l l e n c e o f h e r  a l l t o o o f t e n t h e a r d e n t c r i t i c becomes i n v o l v e d e i t h e r w i t h  the  r e a l f a c t s on w h i c h t h e poem i s b a s e d , o r e l s e on t h e i n t r i c a c i e s o f t h e form b o t h i n terms o f t h e symbols and t h e t e c h n i c a l d e v i c e s u s e d . F o r example, i n h e r d i s c u s s i o n o f "The I c o s a s p h e r e " ,  Marie Borroff  s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e s o l v i n g o f t h e poem l i e s n o t i n t h e meaning o f t h e s e p a r a t e s t a t e m e n t s t h a t c o n s t i t u t e t h e poem, b u t i n t h e i n t e r c o n n e c t i n g o f t h e s e s t a t e m e n t s , and p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e i r c o n n e c t i o n i n sequence, t h e " l o g i c a l " p r o g r e s s i o n from one s t a t e m e n t t o another.9 One s h o u l d n o t emphasize t h e poem as a s o r t o f i n t e l l e c t u a l p o e t i c b r a i n t e a s e r a l t h o u g h t h e r e i s a f o r m i d a b l e amount o f c a r e i n t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f  -13-  her verse, w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r regard f o r the reader's eye and ear.  On the  other hand, i n an unpublished d o c t o r a l d i s s e r t a t i o n we are t o l d t h a t : Since n e i t h e r v i s u a l nor audible e f f e c t i s dominant i n s y l l a b i c verse, a p p r e c i a t i o n of i t s v e r s a t i l i t y i s almost r e t r o s p e c t i v e . We r e t u r n t o evaluate by a mathematical y a r d s t i c k t h a t shows i n i t s a n a l y s i s the genius which has produced the poem. Lloyd Frankenburg, w r i t i n g i n the Saturday Review of L i t e r a t u r e suggests t h a t : Marianne Moore i s able t o impart i t s (poetry's) rhythms - any rhythm she wishes - and by means of her s t r i c t s y l l a b i c patterns subject them t o a t e n s i o n t h a t unmistakably d i f f e r e n t i a t e s them ^ from prose. Her poems are an expansion of the l i m i t s of poetry. Such comments i n d i c a t e some idea of the p o e t i c technique involved i n Miss Moore's poetry, although n e i t h e r c r i t i c emphasizes the naturalness of the l i n e s so t h a t the reader i s impressed by the l o g i c a l f l o w of thought and the appropriate f l o w of sound despite the s o l i d foundation of rhyming end words and measured s y l l a b i c l i n e s .  Moreover i f one becomes engrossed w i t h the  t e c h n i c a l aspect of her poetry alone, he i s misled i n t o considering the development of the thought of the poem as manipulated by the r i g i d considerations of measured l i n e and rhyming word. I n order t o e s t a b l i s h the f i r s t p r i n c i p l e of Marianne Moore's verse, t h a t the essence of i t l i e s i n the synthesis of thought and form, i t i s necessary t o examine c l o s e l y s e v e r a l of her poems, t o judge the observation and thought of the poet i n terms not only of the moral statement as her basic need t o express but a l s o of the mathematical y a r d s t i c k as a n e c e s s a r i l y r e t r o spective means of a p p r e c i a t i n g her p o e t i c v e r s a t i l i t y .  Such a "mathematical  yardstick"* would have t o i n c l u d e the p r e c i s e s y l l a b i c l i n e count employed so o f t e n , the many v a r i e t i e s of rhyme - broken, l i g h t , near, as w e l l as asso12  nance and a l l i t e r a t i o n , - the "grace metaphors",  and the g e n e r a l l y superb  use of language t h a t i s marked by her a b i l i t y to express h e r s e l f c l e a r l y without the l o s s of e i t h e r immediacy or v i v i d n e s s . The paradox i n v o l v e d , and  Hiss Moore i s unabashedly fond of the paradox, i s the apparent burden of form - s y l l a b l e count and rhyme p a r t i c u l a r l y - and the impression of f r e e , almost prosaic development of thought.  In a more recent a r t i c l e than the  one previously quoted, Mr. Frankenburg speaks of the c o n f l i c t between s t r u c ture and content i n Miss Moore's poetry, noting that the c o n f l i c t epitomizes a f a v o r i t e theme of the poet, that necessity and freedom are i n e x t r i c a b l y 13 linked.  Miss Moore f i r m l y advocates C h r i s t i a n p r i n c i p l e s ; presumably the  phrase " i n Whose Service i s perfect freedom" I s meaningful f o r her i n d a i l y endeavors which are carried out, as has been previously suggested, with the same emphasis on the v i r t u e s that her poems recommend.  In "The Icosasphere"  (page 142) the p h y s i c a l , that i s t e c h n i c a l , c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the poem may be s e t down as follows:  each of the three stanzas has approximately the  same number o f s y l l a b l e s , the f i r s t and second having seventy s y l l a b l e s each, the  t h i r d having seventy-eight. In each of the stanzas there are two f i x e d  l i n e s with the same number of s y l l a b l e s i n each, the f i r s t l i n e having seven s y l l a b l e s , the f i f t h l i n e having nine s y l l a b l e s i n each case. l i n e 1 In Buckinghamshire hedgerows the birds nesting i n the merged green density weave l i t t l e b i t s of s t r i n g and moths and feathers and thistledown, line 5 i n parabolic concentric curves line 1  avid f o r someone's fortune  *  •  line 5 line 1  But then there i s the icosasphere b a l l or double-rounded  * line 5  *  *  shell  * or Mr. J . 0.  Jackson t e l l us  Comparing the s y l l a b l e count i n the other l i n e s of the three stanzas, we  -15f i n d a d e l i b e r a t e attempt t o produce a c o n s i s t e n t p a t t e r n o f l i n e lengths from stanza t o stanza.  For example, l i n e two o f stanza one has eleven  s y l l a b l e s as does l i n e two o f the second stanza; s y l l a b l e s i n l i n e two.  stanza three has twelve  I n one o f two cases where the d i f f e r e n c e i n l i n e  length i s as much as f o u r s y l l a b l e s , the emphasis on the stressed s y l l a b l e s renders the sound o f the l i n e length more equal.  For example, i n the f i r s t  stanza the seventh l i n e i s made up of the s i n g l e word " e f f i c i e n c y " ; i n stanza two, l i n e seven, the s i n g l e word i s •"economy'*; and i n stanza three, l i n e seven, the phrase i s " s o l i d g r a n i t e v e r t i c a l l y . "  Following the n a t u r a l  rhythm and i n f l e x i o n t h a t the sense o f the l i n e s suggests, i t i s probable that the speaker would emphasize, or a t l e a s t make p r e c i s e , each s y l l a b l e o f a word such as " e f f i c i e n c y " .  However one would not n e c e s s a r i l y make prominent  the l a s t three s y l l a b l e s o f " v e r t i c a l l y " .  I t must be acknowledged, o f course,  t h a t such an argument i s specious when one admits t h a t the readings o f a poem vary i n d i r e c t r e l a t i o n w i t h the number of readers.  I t i s more reasonable t o  emphasize t h a t Miss Moore*s goal i s c l a r i t y o f meaning and naturalness o f e f f e c t and t h a t n e i t h e r of these i s s a c r i f i c e d t o r i g i d t e c h n i c a l conventions. To: i l l u s t r a t e the technique o f s y l l a b i c measurement as one o f the means by which she achieves a u n i t y o f s t r u c t u r e and o f word sense we might note a poem among her l a t e r works " V o r a c i t i e s and Verities/Sometimes are Interacting".  I n t h i s poem, the t i t l e i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f the whole u n i t ;  there are eight s y l l a b l e s i n the f i r s t l i n e (of the t i t l e ) and seven s y l l a b l e s i n the second l i n e .  What i s the f i r s t stanza, although i t i s the second u n i t  of thought, i s made up o f f i v e l i n e s , o f s i x , t e n , n i n e , f i v e and nine s y l lables respectively.  The second stanza, again made up o f f i v e l i n e s , has  s i x , ten, ten, s i x and e i g h t s y l l a b l e s per l i n e i n t h a t order.  The f i n a l two  -16l i n e s o f the poem, echoing the two l i n e s o f the t i t l e , have eight and seven syllables respectively.  The t o t a l e f f e c t of such d e l i b e r a t e planning i s t h a t  we marvel not so much a t the mathematical y a r d s t i c k by which the l i n e s are measured but rather a t the arrangement o f i d e a s , the unusual but appropriate comparisons t h a t i l l u s t r a t e her thoughts. Note the progression o f the f i r s t stanza: the  I don't l i k e diamonds; emerald's 'grass-lamp glow' i s b e t t e r ; and unobifcusiveness i s d a z z l i n g , upon occasion. Some kinds o f g r a t i t u d e are t r y i n g .  The f i r s t two l i n e s s t a t e a d i s l i k e and a preference;  the second two l i n e s  develop the idea o f the f i r s t two l i n e s f u r t h e r so t h a t the poet's d i s l i k e of the showy p a r a d o x i c a l l y can be found i n t h a t which d e l i b e r a t e l y d e c r i e s ostentation.  The f i f t h l i n e gives another example o f t h i s paradox, t h a t  gratitude which one expects t o be g r a t i f y i n g can o f t e n be a burden.  The  metaphor of the f i r s t two l i n e s i s s u c c e s s f u l l y i l l u s t r a t e d i n the l a s t three lines. the  Undoubtedly, the number of. s y l l a b l e s i n a l i n e c o n t r o l t o some extent  melody and content of the l i n e , but i t i s a c r e d i t t o Miss Moore's p o e t i c  s k i l l t h a t t h i s measuring device a t t r a c t s and perhaps deserves no more a t t e n t i o n than the f a c t t h a t i t does e x i s t . The rhyming o f her poetry c o n s t i t u t e s an i n t e r e s t i n g study because of the many uses o f l i g h t rhyme and assonance.  S i s t e r Garey has produced an  informative study of every aspect o f the poet's use o f rhyme i n c l u d i n g ah i n t e r e s t i n g d i s c u s s i o n o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p of rhyme and the meanings o f words. Occasionally one f e e l s , however, that S i s t e r Garey i s too eager t o assign a reasonable j u s t i f i c a t i o n t o every rhyme -that appears.  -17-  When Miss Moore rhymes "lost-ghost", " l e a s t - w a i s t " i n "Logic and the Magic F l u t e " (Like a Bulwark, p. 21) she i s attempting t o reproduce the e l u s i v e q u a l i t y o f atmosphere, and the never wholly comprehensible experience o f love and t r u t h i n the almost, but never q u i t e p e r f e c t expression o f word r e l a t i o n s h i p s , " 1 4 contradicts Miss Moore's b e l i e f i n the a b i l i t y o f the poet's ear t o catch the appropriate phrase because i t i s pleasing t o the ear and not n e c e s s a r i l y because i t i s a f u n c t i o n a l device t o be e x p l o i t e d .  I t i s true that Miss Moore  i s a p e r f e c t i o n i s t , w i l l i n g t o adjust a l i n e o r stanza from e d i t i o n t o e d i t i o n of her verse, w i l l i n g t o accept u s e f u l c r i t i c i s m , and u n w i l l i n g t o s a c r i f i c e p r e c i s i o n and t a s t e .  But there are many examples o f l i g h t rhyme i n many o f  her poems without t h e i r purpose n e c e s s a r i l y being the c r e a t i o n o f an e l u s i v e atmosphere. " V o r a c i t i e s and Verities/Sometimes are I n t e r a c t i n g " , f o r makes use o f two rhyming sounds - " i n g " and "on".  instance,  Hence the words " i n t e r -  a c t i n g " "Dazzling" " t r y i n g " "reading" and "undying", and "occasion" "one" and " o b l i g a t i o n " provide the rhyming u n i t y of the poem and help t o u n i f y the poem as a whole.  As S i s t e r Carey notes:  Frequently Marianne Moore achieves greater u n i t y by l i n e rhyming through a l l the stanzas of a poem rather than w i t h i n a s i n g l e stanza."15 I t i s p o s s i b l e t o f i n d almost every type o f rhyming device used by Miss Moore.  She employs l i g h t rhyme as i n the f i n a l two l i n e s o f the second  stanza o f " V o r a c i t i e s and V e r i t i e s . . . " : "one - o b l i g a t i o n " .  I n "The Icosa-  sphere" we f i n d examples o f i n t e r n a l rhyme - of a s o r t , since the rhyming words occur i n the.middle o f one l i n e ("concavity" i n "Line 6) and i n the one word o f the f o l l o w i n g l i n e ( " e f f i c i e n c y " i n l i n e 7). Near rhyme i s used i n such combinations o f words as "thistledown - i n t e g r a t i o n " .  Babette Deutsch  16 speaks o f Marianne Moore's "delight, i n broken rhyme".  However, i t i s a  device used r e l a t i v e l y i n f r e q u e n t l y and one may question the purpose o f the  -18broken word as used f o r the purpose of rhyme or f o r the s y l l a b l e count of the particular line.  C e r t a i n l y i t i s a device t h a t appears r a r e l y i n her l a t e r  poems. One might note as w e l l t h a t the words t h a t are broken are very o f t e n those already s p l i t by a hyphen.  "The Jerboa" provides s e v e r a l examples of  broken rhyme of t h i s f a s h i o n : "dog-cats", "duck-heads", "flower-beds", and "silk-worm". Another of her t e c h n i c a l accomplishments i s found i n her handling of assonance and a l l i t e r a t i o n . 25).  Consider an e a r l y poem "No Swan So F i n e " (page  A l l i t e r a t i v e phrases such as "so s t i l l " " c h i n t z c h i n a " and "lodged i n  the Louis Fifteenth/candelabrum-tree of cockscomb - / t i n t e d . . . " c o n t r i b u t e to the u n i t y of sound of the poem. E q u a l l y e f f e c t i v e i s the r e p e t i t i o n of the long vowel sound "o" i n the f i r s t stanza, achieved i n such phrases as  "No  water so" "no swan...so f i n e " , and the v a r i a t i o n s on the sound "o" i n the sequence "...one w i t h fawn-/brown eyes and toothed g o l d / c o l l a r on t o show whose b i r d i t was." Miss Moore says t h a t "concealed rhyme and the i n t e r i o r i z e d climax u s u a l l y please me b e t t e r than the open rhyme and the i n s i s t e d - o n climax..."*'' Lloyd Frankenburg repeats t h i s i d e a i n a comment i n h i s a r t i c l e f o r the Marianne Moore i s s u e of Q.R.L. i n which he says, "The climaxes are i n s i d e the poems; not so much b u i l t up t o as b u i l t around; i n l a i d ; and come t o us o f t e n 18 as afterimages.""  1  I t i s presumptuous t o s t a t e s p e c i f i c a l l y t h a t concealed  rhyme and assonance are overt c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s t o the i n t e r i o r i z e d climax since climax i s an outcome of the development of thought w h i l e rhyme i s considered p a r t of t e c h n i c a l s k i l l .  But the very f a c t t h a t she r e f e r s t o them  i n the same comment i s an i n d i c a t i o n t h a t she views thought and manner as being f a c e t s of the one prism.  I t i s p a r t of her s t y l e t o r e l y on the s u b t l e  -19-  device, the rhyme that i s not forced, the rhythm that depends more on the phrasing of images and ideas rather than on traditional patterns of regular stressed and unstressed beats.  In this way she seems to be trying to achieve  the same kind of freedom that Hopkins sought with his "sprung rhythm", although she i s much more successful. In the same way the climax of her ideas i s not forced to a particular position i n the poem i f i t i s forced at a l l ; one observes and reflects along with the poet, image mirrors idea, and the reader i s free to contemplate on both i n the same instant. One cannot say that she sacrifices poetic quality (that i s , i n the sense of technique) for the argument of her poem, since there i s every deliberate effort to express what she wants to say as rhythmically, as concisely, and as spontaneously as possible. Gn the other hand, Miss Moore, perhaps more than any other poet of her generation has not been committed to the notion that the flow of ideas of the poem must be controlled by the technical, and traditional, ties of poetry. Some of her own comments prove most useful here i n her justification of what, to her, i s a good poem.3h"In Distrust of Merits", one of her most popularly received poems, she has dismissed as not really a poem because of i t s haphazardness. ...as form, what has i t ? I t i s just a protest - disjointed, exclamatory. Emotion overpowered me. F i r s t this thought and then that.19 She never indulged willingly i n an emotional outburst; hers i s the measured consideration of a thing, but as the impetus of that consideration, an ear for the music of reflective speech and the ability to recognize the immediacy of the imaginative impulse.  In this connection, Robert Duncan provides  several reflective comments about the method of Marianne Moore.  -20The rigorously counted syllables, the certainty of end rimes, the conformation of stanzas arise along lines, not of a selfimposed necessity but of a psychic need. Stanza must conform to stanza i n the work of Marianne Moore wherever the charge of emotion i s carried, because awareness at a l l depends upon a character structure that proves i t s e l f i n awareness.  2 G  Although Mr. Duncan exaggerates an uncompromising submission on Miss Moore's part to a sort of Freudian complex about rigid Puritan rules as revealed i n her conformity to traditional technical rules of writing poetry, he nevertheless speaks about structure and awareness i n a means-to-an-end relationship. Controlled lines suggest controlled emotion;  a reasonable appraisal can be  made only Upon the basis of an unprejudiced observation; awareness of an i n herent emotional attitude toward a situation can only come about by a measured and honest assessment of the structure of the situation. very real part of her attitude toward her subject.  Thus her style i s a  An extensive analysis of  an early poem such as "The Jerboa" (page 16) reveals an absolute identification between form and matter brought about by the whole tumult of her language when she describes the excesses of Roman and Egyptian civilizations at the height of their decadence; language becomes more precise, her point of view narrows but retains i t s perceptiveness when she describes the jerboa whom she sees as characterized by abundance despite, or rather because of, i t s simplicity. A remark i n the same paragraph by Mr. Duncan i s noteworthy:  "It i s  not subtlety of movement and interrelation but the challenge of obstacles and particulars that informs her dance.  1,21  Presumably he means that the topics  which interest her are those which deal with creatures or events or ideas that present a challenge to one's reason; that i s , the reality of her imaginary garden i s expressed i n the symbol of the toad which i s popularly  -21-  considered t o be an u g l y creature who must be studied o b j e c t i v e l y , without p r e j u d i c e , t o be appreciated.  The c h i l d r e n ' s f a i r y t a l e i n which the  b e a u t i f u l p r i n c e s s meets an obstacle or challenge uses such a creature as the  symbol of the harshness of r e a l i t y .  I n other words, i t i s the n e c e s s i t y  of f a c i n g r e a l i t y , the paramount obstacle of man, which t y p i f i e s the s p i r i t of her p o e t r y . This i s not t o suggest, however, t h a t her "dance" i s not marked by a t e c h n i c a l s u b t l e t y of movement and an i n t e r r e l a t i o n of the workings of d i c t i o n , rhyme, rhythm, and so f o r t h which are p r e c i s e l y the elements which make her dance the h i g h l y u n i f i e d p a t t e r n of movement of thought and form t h a t i t i s .  I n the current school of modern poetry which  Robert Duncan represents, Miss Moore's use of end rhyme no matter how subtle i s s t i l l not subtle enough.  But most important, these t r a i t s do not i n t r u d e  on the u n i t y of the poem; they are c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s to the success of the purpose o f the poet. I t never occurred t o me t h a t what I wrote was something t o d e f i n e . I am governed by the p u l l of the sentence as the p u l l of a f a b r i c i s governed by g r a v i t y . I l i k e the end-stopped l i n e and d i s l i k e the reversed order of words; l i k e symmetry. . . . I never p l a n a stanza. Words c l u s t e r l i k e chromosomes determining the procedure. I may i n f l u e n c e an arrangement or t h i n i t , then t r y t o have successive stanzas i d e n t i c a l w i t h the f i r s t . Spontaneous i n i t i a l o r i g i n a l i t y - s a y , impetus - seems d i f f i c u l t t o reproduce consciously l a t e r . ?  Although Miss Moore never discusses her d e f i n i t i o n o f "spontaneous i n i t i a l o r i g i n a l i t y " i n s p e c i f i c terms, i t may be suggested t h a t i t s source l i e s i n her a b i l i t y t o hear the f e l i c i t o u s phrase which t o her combines both music i n the  arrangement of the words and perception i n the image t h a t the words  convey.  Her many acknowledgements  t o books read or l e c t u r e s heard i n the  notes t o her poems, and i n the m u l t i p l i c i t y of quotations i n the poems themselves t e s t i f y t o her enthusiasm f o r a v a r i e t y of subjects which provide a  -22source f o r her imaginative ear. I t i s impossible t o s t a t e unequivocally the components of the p o e t i c imagination which are e s s e n t i a l l y involved i n the act of c r e a t i o n .  However Miss Moore emphasizes the need t o absorb d e t a i l s o f  language, w r i t t e n and spoken, as one way i n which t o feed the c r e a t i v e impulse. The accuracy o f the vernacular! That's the kind of t h i n g I am i n t e r e s t e d i n , am always t a k i n g down l i t t l e l o c a l expressions and accents, I t h i n k I should be i n some p h i l o l o g i c a l operation or e n t e r p r i s e , am r e a l l y much i n t e r e s t e d i n d i a l e c t and i n t o n a t i o n s , I s c a r c e l y t h i n k o f any t h a t comes i n t o my s o - c a l l e d poems a t a l l , "The Icosasphere" provides a p r o f i t a b l e source o f i l l u s t r a t i o n s o f her a b i l i t y t o hear the r i g h t phrase.  The f i r s t f i v e l i n e s o f the poem are a  quotation. I n Buckinghamshire hedgerows the b i r d s nesting i n the merged green d e n s i t y weave l i t t l e b i t s o f s t r i n g and moths and feathers and thistledown, i n p a r a b o l i c concentric curves. One can understand why the sentence appealed t o her, "Merged green d e n s i t y " i s an i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c but p r e c i s e d e s c r i p t i o n o f the appearance o f the hedgerows; the v a r i e d quantity o f scavengered b u i l d i n g materials f o r the b i r d s ' nests i s suggested by the r e p e t i t i o n o f the word "and" as she l i s t s them: , , , l i t t l e b i t s o f s t r i n g and moths and feathers and thistledown, "In p a r a b o l i c concentric curves" i s as p r e c i s e as a l i n e diagram.  The second  stanza makes use o f the c l i p p e d o b j e c t i v e language o f the newspaper a r t i c l e as she contrasts man's i n c l i n a t i o n t o deny h i s a b i l i t y t o work honestly and purp o s e f u l l y and i n s t e a d t o commit e v i l so t h a t he might f i n d easy l u x u r y : avid f o r someone's fortune, three were s l a i n and t e n committed p e r j u r y , s i x d i e d , two k i l l e d themselves, and two p a i d f i n e s f o r r i s k s they'd r u n . But her poems are not a pastiche o f what pleases her despite her statement  t h a t " I s c a r c e l y t h i n k o f any t h a t comes i n t o my s o - c a l l e d poems a t a l l , " Although one's f i r s t impression o f a poem may be of a bewildering  juxtapo-  s i t i o n o f ideas and d e s c r i p t i o n s of objects punctuated by innumerable quotation marks, a c a r e f u l assessment of t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l r e l a t i o n s h i p along w i t h t h e i r metaphoric c o n t i n u i t y , t h a t i s i n terms of t h e i r imagery and rhythm, w i l l make obvious Miss Moore's c o n t r o l l i n g s k i l l . I n "The Icosasphere" as i n many other poems, the observation o f the poem leads Miss Moore t o a r e f l e c t i o n t h a t i s i l l u m i n a t e d by a moral t r u t h . I n many of her poems the object described i s an animal, very often an e x o t i c one; s e v e r a l o f her poems discuss c o u n t r i e s , others are b u i l t around an objet d'art t h a t has caught her fancy: a Flemish t a p e s t r y , a c r y s t a l c l o c k .  Some of  her l a t e r poems celebrate s p e c i a l s i t u a t i o n s and people: Y u l Brynner, the rescue of Carnegie H a l l , a b a s e b a l l game w i t h the Brooklyn Dodgers,  But i n  her i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f such v a r i e d t o p i c s there i s a common method o f o b j e c t i v e a p p r a i s a l and a re-echoing  of v i r t u e s t h a t she sees exemplified i n the d i v e r -  s i t y o f subjects t h a t she f i n d s important f o r man t o be reminded o f .  what i s  of concern here i s how she develops a s i n g l e poem by d e s c r i b i n g , or a t l e a s t drawing our a t t e n t i o n t o , apparently a n t i t h e t i c a l o b j e c t s , y e t by her choice of words, her method of handling them and the mood she invokes producing a u n i f i e d and a r t i s t i c poem. "The Icosasphere" appears t o be made up o f such diverse elements as b i r d s ' nests, man's crimes, an economical way t o c u t s t e e l , and a query about ancient Egyptian engineering p r a c t i c e s .  The key t o the p o e t i c synthesis o f  the poem, apart from the use o f rhythm and rhyme t o u n i f y the poem t e c h n i c a l l y , i s her j u d i c i o u s use o f s e v e r a l words which serve t o l i n k the o b j e c t i v e images and t o suggest the moral t h a t she has perceived i n her consideration o f these images.  -24For example, " i n t e g r a t i o n " i n l i n e eight of the f i r s t stanza a p t l y suggests the f r u i t f u l economy of the b i r d s who make use of f e a t h e r s , moths, s t r i n g , and thistledown t o b u i l d p e r f e c t , symmetrical nests.  The word a l s o  a n t i c i p a t e s the conjoined t r i a n g l e s on the surface of the sphere as a design for efficient steel-cutting.  •"Integration** a l s o i r o n i c a l l y suggests the  unanimous d e s i r e f o r easy wealth displayed by the men who committed assorted crimes i n hopes of gaining i t , as described i n a newspaper. The word " a v i d " , implying i n t h i s case greed, a p p r o p r i a t e l y charact e r i z e s the c r i m i n a l s already mentioned; i n contrast we have the phrase "working f o r concavity" which suggests the b i r d s * a b i l i t y t o consider t h e i r needs and how t o adapt t h e i r environment t o those needs.  The thematic i m p l i -  c a t i o n suggested by the poem as a whole i s t h a t man has corrupted himself i n an e v i l of s l o t h and d u p l i c i t y f a r removed from the innocence of an Eden where b i r d s , beasts, and man worked together i n harmony - and i n honesty. One can f o r g i v e Miss Moore*s naive i m p l i c a t i o n (urging twentieth century t o consider the ways of the b i r d s i s not a popular suggestion when man  man  sees  himself, as a general r u l e , as not only superior t o and a l i t t l e embarrassed by such morals, but r a t h e r i n s e n s i b l e t o them as w e l l , since he i s a v i c t i m of h i s c o n d i t i o n not the creator of i t , and hence unable to improve i t or himself) because she i s obdurate i n her expectation of mankind, and i s cons i s t e n t l y so i n a l l of her poems. As a m o r a l i s t she f i n d s evidences  of  v i r t u e s i n what she experiences i n her observations; as a poet she i s concerned w i t h communicating what she experiences, as honestly as her c r a f t w i l l allow. The word "economy" i n stanza two r e c o l l e c t s the h a b i t s of the b i r d s and emphasizes the e f f i c i e n t new means of c u t t i n g s t e e l .  The thought i s  -25repeated i n the words "neat" and "no waste".  "One  b a l l " or "double-rounded  s h e l l " echoes the "concavity", "the s p h e r i c a l f e a t s of r a r e i n g e n u i t y " thus l i n k i n g by images the objects of Miss Moore's observation and r e f l e c t i o n the nest and the  icosasphere.  Considering the poem i n terms of the methods by which i t i s u n i f i e d then, we see t h a t the poet develops the l o g i c of her thought from a consider a t i o n of a n a t u r a l process (the b i r d s * nesting h a b i t s ) , t o a consideration o f , to her, an unnatural process (man*s e v i l ) , t o a d e s c r i p t i o n of an object whose shape i s reminiscent of b i r d s * nests and whose design makes use of both n a t u r a l economy and the superior use of h i s i n t e l l e c t of which man i s capable, t o an i r o n i c conclusion i n which the poet asks modern man to remember that ancient races accomplished engineering f e a t s i n s p i t e of the f a c t t h a t we consider ancient methods i n f e r i o r to our twentieth century s c i e n t i f i c s k i l l s . The moral of the poem, not stated e x p l i c i t l y , i s t h a t man who i s n a t u r a l l y capable of wisdom and honesty should not permit himself to be l u r e d by easy success.  This type of m o r a l i s t i c tone i s frequent i n Miss Moore*s poetry.  As Bernard Engel notes i n the f i r s t chapter of h i s book on her work, The values she would advocate...include courage, independence, r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , genuineness, and a c e r t a i n ardor i n the conduct of one*s l i f e . Presentation of t h i s e t h i c i s b u i l t i n t o her work. ^" 2  "The Icosasphere",  then, may be seen as a u n i t , s i n g l e of purpose and  of method; t h a t i s t o suggest, by means of r e l a t e d observations, t h a t man's n a t u r a l a b i l i t y must not be s a c r i f i c e d or dismissed.  As Marie B b r r o f f notes:  The successive objects of h i s ( s i c ) meditation appear to us i n a l l t h e i r concrete i n d i v i d u a l i t y , and become r e l a t e d to each other i n terms of the|r p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s as w e l l as t h e i r conceptual values. ^ Considering " V o r a c i t i e s and V e r i t i e s . . . " i n these terms, t h a t i s t h a t the poet obtains a synthesis of thought and method, we see t h a t her procedure  -26i s somewhat the same, except t h a t her t i t l e states the theme so t h a t the reader may assume the r e s t o f the poem t o go on t o prove the statement, parad o x i c a l , o f the t i t l e . Miss Moore begins by suggesting t h a t passion and t r u t h , considered incompatible since the former i s s u b j e c t i v e and the l a t t e r must be o b j e c t i v e , can e x i s t alongside each other.  She i l l u s t r a t e s s e v e r a l examples o f vora-  ciousness: diamonds whose r e p u t a t i o n and dazzle demand one's a t t e n t i o n ; the unobtrusive a c t which by i t s d e l i b e r a t e effacement becomes prominent; d i s p l a y s of g r a t i t u d e which should imply a h u m i l i t y but i n s t e a d become ostentatious a l l o f these suggestions are examples of an overwhelming appetite f o r s e l f display.  The second stanza deals again w i t h voraciousness, beginning  with  an appeal t o poets whose passion o f t e n leads them t o overstate, and t o assume t h a t poetry i s the only means o f c r e a t i v e expression.  Miss Moore humorously  reminds us t h a t an elephant can a s s e r t h i s needs and t h a t a f a c t u a l book about t i g e r s can be i n t e r e s t i n g . The concluding stanza i l l u s t r a t e s the theme stated i n the t i t l e .  I n h i s b r i e f a n a l y s i s o f the poem Mr. Engel focuses on  the p a r t o f the l a s t two l i n e s which states "One may be pardoned...for love undying'' and remarks t h a t , The l o v e r i s n e c e s s a r i l y going t o v i o l a t e the tenets o f r e s t r a i n t . But he may be f o r g i v e n , f o r i n h i s aggression he w i l l come to a more profound comprehension, t o a greater v e r i l y than r e s t r a i n t could provide.26 His conclusion i s j u s t i f i a b l e since such a paradox i s p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h i n Miss Moore's t h i n k i n g .  One should not, however, overlook the p a r e n t h e t i c a l  clause which i n t e r r u p t s the statement, "...yes I know one may..." since i t i s t h i s a s s e r t i o n t h a t i s as much p a r t o f the paradox o f the poem as the r e s t of the l i n e s .  The clause i s characterized by a stubbornness o f tone i n a  b e l i e f t h a t cannot be explained l o g i c a l l y , and f o r her i t i s an e s s e n t i a l  -27-  truth.  Consequently, she i s taking part i n the paradox which i s the theme  of her poem by affirming her f a i t h i n the power of undying love and i n the f a i t h that one w i l l be forgiven f o r such an excessive b e l i e f .  The poem i s  an example of her b e l i e f i n the a r t i c l e s of C h r i s t i a n i t y and i t s theme i s strengthened by the unity of mood and purpose. In considering the t o t a l poetic synthesis of the poem, i t i s necessary to look as well to the technical aspects of the poem.  The use of the  t i t l e as the f i r s t two l i n e s of the poem has already been mentioned. The l i n e s , measured by s y l l a b l e s , are almost exactly symmetrical; the rhyming sounds of "on" and "•ing*' are supplemented by use of assonance and a l l i t e r a t i o n . The images that she brings to our notice are diamonds, emeralds, elephants and t i g e r s who i f they have anything i n common do at l e a s t remind us of Indian jungles and mountains.  Speculative analysis of a poem i n which a c r i t i c pre-  sumes a p o e f s inferences f a r beyond the circumference of the poem i s dangerous and r a r e l y h e l p f u l .  In t h i s case i t i s tempting to suggest that Miss  Moore's images Which might suggest the avarice of jewel and wild game hunters instead are i r o n i c a l because t h e i r environment i s India whose people might well epitomize the paradox of the poem.  Indian philosophy, wise and ancient,  demands i n s a t i a b l e s a c r i f i c e s of the i n d i v i d u a l bodily needs to a t t a i n knowledge of the eternal t r u t h s .  This kind o f speculation, however, i s not r e -  inforced by the poem and i s f u t i l e .  Better to say that Miss Moore used two  l i n k s of imagery - jewels and i n t e r e s t i n g animals, and that the unity of the poem i s not as t i g h t l y enforced as was the case i n ••The Icosasphere**.  Mr.  Engel remarks that the leaps of the imagination required of the reader are s u f f i c i e n t l y directed by the course o f the poem and, i n f a c t , the quickness and b r e v i t y are suitable to the i n t r i c a c y of the content.  I t i s not easy to  accept Mr. Engel*s reasoning: i n t r i c a c y does not necessarily, i f a t a l l ,  -28imply quickness and b r e v i t y .  I t i s e a s i e r t o confess t h a t the poet's concern  f o r economy o f language has here outdistanced her care f o r l u c i d p o e t i c communication.  Although she has followed most of her r u l e s , she has not made her  care f o r the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f an image and the c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f i t a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f the poem; consequently the p a t t e r n t h a t we have come t o associate w i t h her method does not appear.  I n her e f f o r t t o be a poet who i s not going  to make a f u s s she leans too f a r i n the other d i r e c t i o n and merely leaves her reader unsure o f where the poem i s l e a d i n g him and o f p r e c i s e l y what the poet i s emphasizing.  Although the form o f the poem creates a l o g i c a l p a t t e r n -  the opening and c l o s i n g p a i r s o f l i n e s are generalized statements supported by the p a r t i c u l a r references contained between them, - the l o g i c o f her thought i s not as obvious. Thus f a r a t t e n t i o n has been d i r e c t e d t o the aspects o f p o e t i c t e c h nique t h a t serve t o provide u n i t y t o the i n d i v i d u a l poem. P a r t i c u l a r reference has been made t o imagery and rhyme as the most obvious and most s u c c e s s f u l means by which t o achieve t h a t u n i t y .  Although "Poetry" may be considered a  f u l l y adequate statement o f Miss Moore's p o e t i c philosophy, she o c c a s i o n a l l y comments i n her other poems about c e r t a i n aspects o f the language t h a t esp e c i a l l y appeal t o her. Her attempt i s always t o be n a t u r a l i n her tone; t h i s can be achieved not only by the unobtrusive but rhythmic s y l l a b i c l i n e , but a l s o by purposeful y e t not d i d a c t i c language.  "With p a r t i c u l a r reference  t o d i c t i o n Miss Moore remarked f a v o r a b l y i n "England" on the country (America) where l e t t e r s are w r i t t e n " i n p l a i n American which dogs and cats can read!" (page 53).  One must admit, however, t h a t the general e f f e c t o f her language  i s of an e r u d i t e vocabulary where the appropriate word has been s e l e c t e d caref u l l y regardless o f i t s o r i g i n i n language t r a d i t i o n a l l y p o e t i c , s c i e n t i f i c ,  -29-  or economic. Wordsworth too professed to use "the language of conversation i n the middle and lower classes of society", yet the language of his poetry i s successful because i t i s unrestricted by class differences, not because i t i s colloquial.  By the same token, Miss Moore's choice of words depends en-  t i r e l y on the idea that she wishes to convey. The following lines, f o r instance, would hardly be considered to be " i n plain American" or i n poetic language, yet they are effective. A mirror-of-steel uninsistence should countenance continence, objectified and not by chance, there i n i t s frame of circumstance of innocence and altitude i n an unhackneyed solitude. There i s the tarnish; and there, the imperishable wish (Armour's Undermining Modesty, p . 1 ^ 9 ) Referring again to her own words, we read i n "Picking and Choosing" (p. 51) that Miss Moore believes ...Words are constructive when they are true; the opaque allusion - the simulated flight upward - accomplishes nothing. It i s tempting to use this statement as a standard of her use of words i n poetry when i n fact she i s discussing the attributes of good literary c r i t i cism.  One can say that she never uses purposely an opaque allusion i n her  poetry; her standard device i s to provide an analogy which contains i n her observance.of i t a moral that she considers important.  Morals form what are to  her important truths; since she may be considered a moralist, and i n that sense a didactic poet, the words she uses are constructive. For example, i n her poem "He 'Digesteth Harde Yron'" (p. 1 0 2 ) she describes the ostrich, referring to historical data as well as to scientific characteristics. Her  -30deseription leads into her observation that "The power of the v i s i b l e / i s the i n v i s i b l e " , and although the poem does not end there, nor i s the comment so significant that what she has said before loses i t s importance, i t i s nevertheless the moral that she wishes to draw to the attention of the reader. However, the moral need not be stated outright; "Sea Unicorns and Land Unicorns" (p. 85) and "Rigorists" (p. 100)  are two examples of poems i n which  the description of the creatures, facts about their history and habitat make up the poem. Here, i n the reason f o r her choice of these details l i e s the truth that she has observed. The truth of her words does not need, however, to l i e i n their l i t e r a l meanings alone. One has learned to expect from this poet a sensitive eye f o r the colorful and appropriate language that appeals primarily to the sense of sight that delights i n movement and colour.  "He *Digesteth Harde Yron**?  offers examples of her i n f i n i t e care f o r the range and depth of words. In the f i r s t stanza she r e c a l l s certain extinct birds, the aepyornis and moa, as a contrast with the "camel-sparrow" who s t i l l l i v e s , and which she notes i s a symbol of j u s t i c e .  Her description of him centers around his protectiveness  for his young, and the phrases used to describe him have a f a i n t l y B i b l i c a l tone: He i s swifter than a horse; he has a foot hard as a hoof; the leopard i s not more suspicious. The simplicity of her description which tends to identify him as almost primitive and eternal, f i t t i n g qualities f o r a symbol of j u s t i c e , i s carried over into another comment: .. .he whose comic duckling head on i t s great neck revolves with compass-needle nervousness when he stands guard, i n S-  -31-  l i k e foragings as he i s preening the down on h i s leaden-skinned back. The d e s c r i p t i o n i s accurate and v i v i d , and amusing; as well i t i s an off-beat metaphor of the p i c t u r e of j u s t i c e - not a Greek god, blind-folded and s e l f consciously i m p a r t i a l , but an obstinate Walt Disney animation whose clumsy exterior i s characterized by an inner constancy, suggested by the reference to the compass, the leaden-skinned back, and the constancy of h i s guard. The seventh stanza o f f e r s another example of Miss Moore's fondness f o r precise d e t a i l , used i n t h i s case to show man's capacity f o r show and spoilage. S i x hundred ostrich-brains served at one banquet, the ostrich-plume-tipped tent and desert spear, jewelgorgeous ugly egg-shell goblets, eight p a i r s of ostriches i n harness, dramatize a meaning always missed by the e x t e r n a l i s t . Miss Moore concludes by p r a i s i n g the heroism of the o s t r i c h , but the phrase that a t t r a c t s one's eye i s again an overwhelmingly accurate v i s u a l p i c t u r e of the b i r d : ...an a l e r t gargantuan l i t t l e - w i n g e d , magnificently speedy running-bird. one remaining r e b e l i s the  This  sparrow-camel.  I f i t i s necessary to suggest why Miss Moore chose to end a poetic t r i b u t e to the i d e a l of j u s t i c e and heroism (as exemplified i n a b i r d that looks as i f i t should be extinct) by a description that amuses p r i m a r i l y , one might r e member that a f t e r a l l the poet i s concerned with man's moral p l i g h t , as symbolized by the image of the o s t r i c h .  I f the o s t r i c h can display a heroic  determination to defend h i s young as w e l l as a stupid n a l v i t e to man's decoying t r i c k s , how much more capable man should be i n emulating the v i r t u e s of a mere  -32birdl  Not only i s the metaphor of her i n t e n t i o n important but as w e l l the  accuracy of her t a s t e f o r words.  " L i t t l e - w i n g e d , magnificently speedy run-  n i n g - b i r d " demands a reader's eye which sees the s i z e , motion and character of the b i r d ; the phrase r e c a l l s the E n g l i s h l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t i o n s of American Indian t r i b a l names, t r a n s l a t i o n s which are charming f o r t h e i r s i m p l i c i t y and t h e i r obvious attempt a t accuracy. "What has been emphasized so f a r , then, has been the p o e t i c synthesis t h a t i s the b a s i s of Marianne Moore*s poetry.  Reference has been made to  poems which are t y p i c a l of t h a t u n i t y of theme and form which her philosophy demands. A t t e n t i o n has been p a i d t o the e t h i c a l key of each of her observation s. The task now i s t o see her poetry i n the spectrum of American poetry from the time she began to p u b l i s h u n t i l the present, w i t h p a r t i c u l a r reference t o one or two w r i t e r s who are o f t e n associated w i t h her, not only because of t h e i r c h r o n o l o g i c a l place i n American l e t t e r s but because of c e r t a i n s i m i l a r i t i e s i n t h e i r p o e t i c philosophies and s t y l e s .  -33-  FOOTNOTES ^Marie Borroff, "Moore's 'The Icosasphere'", Explator XVT, Item 21. *°Sister M. C. Carey, "The Poetry of Marianne Moore; A Study of Her Verse, I t s Sources and I t s Influence" (unpublished Doctoral D i s s e r t a t i o n , The University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1959)* P. 92. ^ L l o y d Frankenburg, "Meaning i n Modern Poetry," The Saturday Review of L i t e r a t u r e , XXIX, no. 12, (March 23, 1946). ^ ^ o b e r t Frost, "Education by Poetry: A Meditative Monologue," (an address given a t Amherst College i n 1930 as reprinted i n The Norton Reader, New York, 1965) p. 217. 13 Lloyd Frankenburg, "The Imaginary Garden," Q. R. L. IV, 2, p. 213. S i s t e r M. C. Carey, i b i d . , p. 123. ^ i b i d . , p. 86. ^ B a b e t t e Deutsch, Poetry Handbook (New York: Grosset and Dunlap,  1962), p. 121.  ^Marianne Moore, "Feeling and P r e c i s i o n , " P r e d i l i c t i o n s (New York: Viking Press, 1955)» P. 8. 18  Lloyd Frankenburg, i b i d . , p. 199. In h i s Form and Value i n Modern Poetry (Doubleday Anchor Books, 1952) R. P. Blackmur suggests thatHEhe climax of the poem, the "surd" o f the "poetry" i n i t occurs most often and most e f f e c t i v e l y i n the f i n a l two l i n e s . "The r e s t both leads up to i t and i s suffused by i t . The r e s t i s nothing without it§ and i t would i t s e l f remain only a dislocated aphorism, lacking poetry, without the r e s t . " (p.231) A study o f a l l o f her poems would deny the prevalence o f t h i s device. 19 'Marianne Moore, "Interview with Donald H a l l " , A Marianne Moore Reader (New York: The Viking Press, I96I) p. 261. ~* 20 Robert Duncan, i b i d . , p. 4. 2 1  Ibid.  22 Marianne Moore, "Interview with Donald H a l l " , op. c i t . , p. 263. I b i d . , p. 254. ^ B e r n a r d F. Engel, Marianne Moore (New Haven: College and University Press, 1964), p. 17. 2 3  2  ^Marie Borroff, i b i d . , Item 21.  26  B e r n a r d Engel, i b i d . , p. YLU,  -34-  CHAPTER In h i s introduction written i n 1934  TWO  f o r her Selected Poems, T.  S.  E l i o t remarked that "Miss Moore has no immediate poetic derivations," but  27 suggested a possible influence of H,D.  Miss Moore herself admits no i n f l u -  ence although she i s quick to acknowledge friendships and common i n t e r e s t s . In his discussion of her place i n the t r a d i t i o n of E n g l i s h poetic l i t e r a t u r e , Bernard Engel noted an a l l i a n c e l i n k i n g William Blake, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore - an a l l i a n c e characterized by the Romantic s e n s i b i l i t y i n which the power of the imagination and the s p i r i t u a l fountain28 head of man  are  recognized.  For example, a b e l i e f i n the overwhelming power of the imagination  and  a d e l i g h t i n the flow of language, i n the device of analogy and metaphor, i n the moral precepts that man needs to f u l f i l h i s d i v i n e destiny are shared by William Blake and Marianne Moore,  I t i s the i n t e n s i t y which l i e s at almost  opposite poles, or rather the means and necessity of expressing that intensity. Every maxim, every analogy, every myth drawn by Blake reveal h i s passionate wish to break the i n h i b i t i o n s of the confining l i f e of material around him - f o r him, imagination opened i n t o r e a l i t y .  existence  I t seems unnecessary  to comment t h a t t h i s desire to break through the outer world i s not part of Miss Moore's b e l i e f or p r a c t i c e ; the r e a l world of objects, of animals, of experiences i s the r e a l i t y that she acknowledges f i r s t .  To r e a l i z e the  -35-  s p i r i t u a l source behind the world o f r e a l o b j e c t s , one must perceive object i v e l y the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f i t s outer surface, i n a sense i t s armor. "The power o f the v i s i b l e i s the i n v i s i b l e " ; however, the strength o f Miss Moore*s poetry l i e s i n the d e l i n e a t i o n of the v i s i b l e object through which the reader's perception o f the moral t r u t h o f the theme must come. I t would be o f advantage t o see Miss Moore*s poetry i n terms o f i t s immediate appearance i n American l e t t e r s .  She began t o w r i t e and p u b l i s h  a c t i v e l y i n a p o e t i c era marked by the i n f l u e n c e o f the new poets o f the *Twenties, among whom the Imagists stimulated by Ezra Pound and popularized by Amy Lowell must be counted as s i g n i f i c a n t .  I t would be impossible t o deny  t h a t Miss Moore was aware o f these people; i n her years a t the D i a l , although postdating the f e v e r i s h a c t i v i t y o f the Imagist movement, she was able t o encounter some o f the most important w r i t e r s o f both current American and European l i t e r a t u r e . She has acknowledged her regard f o r Ezra Pound i n an essay r e p r i n t e d 20  i n A Marianne Moore Reader.  As i s t y p i c a l o f her c r i t i c a l s t y l e she com-  ments on what she approves o f , and, as might be expected, those c r i t e r i a t h a t Pound sets out f o r poetry are c r i t e r i a t h a t she has acknowledged - the importance o f the n a t u r a l rhythmic l i n e ; the n a t u r a l shape, sound, and meaning o f words; the " f l u i d content" o f a poem rendered i n symmetrical forms; d i r e c t treatment o f a subject.  Pound's c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g s make a r t i c u l a t e the p r i n -  c i p l e s o f modem poetry w i t h which she was concerned, y e t her development as a poet has been p e c u l i a r l y her own. Her moral observations, her preference f o r the minute d e t a i l s t h a t make up an object t h a t she confronts are not l e gacies from any predecessor o r contemporary.  Her growth as a poet i s marked  by an i n c r e a s i n g awareness o f her need t o present her objects l u c i d l y , t o encourage the reader t o appreciate the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f her observations, and  -36-  to r e a l i z e the e t h i c a l source o f the observations as a s p i r i t u a l i t y which i t i s man's duty t o see w i t h i n himself. the  One cannot d i v i d e the metaphor by s e t t i n g  object being observed apart from the reason i t i s being observed; the s t r i c t  l e t t e r o f the Imagist code, however, demands an e n t i r e concentration on the object i t s e l f . R. P. Blackmur i n h i s comprehensive essay on the method o f Marianne Moore goes so f a r as t o say t h a t Pound may have derived h i s method i n the l a t e r Cantos from her, and t o suggest as w e l l t h a t i t i s a p i t y t h a t Pound did not b e n e f i t morel  Blackmur*s arguement i s t h a t the substance o f the e l e -  ments i s i n s u f f i c i e n t l y present i n Pound's t e s t , and t h a t the substance o f Miss Moore's poetry although disparate i n source are " s u f f i c i e n t l y present i n 30  the poem t o compel conspiracy and co-operation*".  I t i s impossible t o argue  w i t h t h i s c r i t i c unless one takes i n t o consideration a whole range of the Cantos.  I n another essay Mr. Blackmur r e f e r s t o the Cantos as "a rag-bag o f  what Mr. Pound t h i n k s i s i n t e l l i g e n t conversation about l i t e r a t u r e and history"?  1  The nature of h i s c r i t i c a l tone leads one t o suspect Mr. Blackmur  of a fondness f o r the p r e c i s e method o f Miss Moore; i t i s d o u b t f u l i f he could ever accuse her o f merely t h i n k i n g t h a t she i s making i n t e l l i g e n t conversation.  What i s important i s t h a t both poets were i n t e r e s t e d i n each  other*s work, Pound as an e a r l y admirer and exponent of the kind of poetry t h a t Miss Moore was w r i t i n g , Miss Moore as a f i r m supporter o f Pound both i n her capacity as e d i t o r o f the D i a l and l a t e r when he was incarcerated i n an American mental h o s p i t a l .  I t would be impossible t o s t a t e which poet had a  p a r t i c u l a r i n f l u e n c e on the other a t any s p e c i f i c date. We may assume t h a t Pound's forming o f the Imagist credo would be duly noted and appreciated by a young reader and w r i t e r o f poetry i n the second and t h i r d decades o f the  -37twentieth century.  Too, Miss Moore was f i r s t published i n 1915  i n The Egoist  and i n Poetry, both popular with the readers of the avant garde; Bernard Engel notes that as early as the same year, Ezra Pound had written to Miss  32 Moore "praising her t i t l e s " .  I t i s entirely without question that both  poets along with William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens and so many others were the new wave of poetry, rebelling against the same artifices of nineteenth century verse and creating new and often similar means of expression. Marianne Moore i s often discussed i n association with Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams. Several of Stevens' comments about poetry echo expressions by Marianne Moore; for instance, "In poetry at least the imagin-  33 ation must not detach i t s e l f from reality",  and Miss Moore's desire that poets  present for inspection "'imaginary gardens with real toads i n them'" are s i milar i n their expectations of the poetic task. On the other hand, when Stevens says "Ethics are no more a part of poetry than they are of painting,"-^ he i s voicing an opinion quite contrary to Miss Moore for whom the moral i s the base of man's spirituality, and consequently of her poems, since i t i s man's condition with which she i s concerned.  To compare both poets i n terms  of style i s to recognize their appearance i n the literary world at the time when "objectivism" and "imagism" were popular terms of two poetic persuasions, a common characteristic being the need to dispense with the restrictions of traditional verse form i n an effort to present a primarily visual expression of an object that was meaningful to the poet. "The Indigo Glass i n the Grass" of Wallace Stevens may be compared with "An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle i n the Shape of a Fish" (p. 90)  or "The  Steeplejack" by Marianne Moore noting that both poets have presented significant images i n order to comment on that significance.  The rhythm of the  -38l i n e s i n the three poems i s closest to that of the natural flow of prose; rhyme i s unobtrusive; images are p r e c i s e ,  Wallace Stevens presents two  ob-  j e c t s : an indigo glass b o t t l e and an arrangement of three objects that i s one image, a '"pot of geraniums, the/stained/mattress and the washed o v e r a l l s drying i n the sun?"  To h i s query of which " t r u l y contains the world", that  i s r e f l e c t s the sum of a l l experience and r e a l i t y , h i s answer i s "Neither one, nor the two together,"  That i s , r e a l i t y i s not only the object perceived  whether i t be a work of a r t or evidence of mundane l i v i n g ,  Stevens commented  that " r e a l i t y i s a vacuum" suggesting that the power of the imagination i s to imbue s u p e r f i c i a l r e a l i t y with a s i g n i f i c a n c e that i s not immediately d i s cernable.  In the same way, Miss Moore i s endowing the seaside town of students  and heroes, of steeplejacks and henhouses and flowers with a s i g n i f i c a n c e that she believes i t to possess.  The r e a l world that she sees i s made purposeful  by the s p i r i t of those who l i v e i n the town; j u s t as the gilded star stands f o r hope, the outer confusion of the town masks an ordered existence charact e r i z e d by the d e s i r e to persevere.  In "The Hero" which was o r i g i n a l l y part  of the same poem, Miss Moore speaks of the hero "not out/seeing a sight but the r o c k / c r y s t a l thing to see,"  Both poets may be said to concern  themselves  with "the rock c r y s t a l thing to see", yet i t i s Miss Moore who makes use of the p r e c i s e object, the sharply drawn image rather than Stevens who becomes involved with abstractions, with d e l i b e r a t e l y ambiguous statements, R. P, Blackmur comments that the most s t r i k i n g thing about Stevens* verse i s i t s vocabulary, and develops the notion that the most important feature of language as used by an i n d i v i d u a l i s h i s f a i t h f u l n e s s to the d i c tionary meaning of the words:  -39Good poets gain t h e i r excellence by w r i t i n g an e x i s t i n g language as i f i t were t h e i r own invention and as a r u l e success i n the e f f e c t of o r i g i n a l i t y i s best secured by f i d e l i t y , i n an extended sense, to the i n d i v i d u a l words as they appear i n the d i c t i o n a r y . 35 The same comment might r e f e r to Miss Moore's poetry, but the i n t e n s i t y of the language i s not as v i v i d i n her work p r i m a r i l y because, l i k e a l l the other aspects of her poetic form, i t i s controlled by the objective but nonetheless d e s c r i p t i v e image that i s at one with the rhythmic and l o g i c a l development of the poem.  Stevens believed that, I n poetry, you must love the words, the n  ideas and the images and rhythms with a l l your capacity to love anything a t all."^^  Miss Moore may f e e l the same passion, but i t i s dominated by her  need f o r p r e c i s i o n , f o r scrupulous regard to proportion. In the introduction to the Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Randall J a r r e l l makes a deliberate association with Williams, Stevens and Miss Moore i n terms of t h e i r Imagist impetus and t h e i r personal adjustments to t h e i r own p o e t i c needs. Stevens, with h i s passion f o r philosophy, order, and blank verse was n a t u r a l l y l e a s t affected by the atmosphere of the time, i n which he was at most a t o u r i s t ; and Marianne Moore synthesized her own novel organization out of s y l l a b i c verse, extravagantly elaborated, h a l f v i s u a l patterns, and an extension of moral judgement, f e e l i n g and generalization to the whole world of imagist perception. Williams found h i s own sort of imagism considerably harder to modify. He had a boyish d e l i g h t and t r u s t i n Things: there i s always on h i s l i p s the f a m i l i a r , pragmatic, American "These are the f a c t s " - f o r he i s the most pragmatic of w r i t e r s , and so American that the adjective i t s e l f seems inadequate...one exclaims i n despair and d e l i g h t : He i s the America of poets. Few o f his poems had that pure c r y s t a l l i n e inconsequence that the imagist poem i d e a l l y has - the world and Williams himself kept breaking i n t o them; and t h i s was c e r t a i n l y t h e i r s a l vation. 37 J a r r e l l then goes on to characterize p a r t i c u l a r l y Williams • poetry by i t s "empathy, sympathy, i t s muscular and emotional i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with i t s subject»"3B The immediate contrast between Williams and Miss Moore i s obvious, since the l a t t e r takes every care not t o reveal any kind o f personal i d e n t i f i cation with her poetic material. She chooses the subjects of her poems  -40-  carefully, creatures or objects which are symbolic of virtues that man i s able to achieve.  Yet there i s a notable s i m i l a r i t y i n the objects of her  attention: one cannot become involved with things such as zoo animals, Christmas wishes and antiques alike to the same degree that one can become caught up i n situations or environments that appeal to the emotions.  A  glance at Williams* t i t l e s reveal the difference i n their basic approach to the metaphor of poetry: "January Morning", "Spring Strains"*, "Smell", "A Coronal", "Portrait of a Lad", " E l Hombre", "Spring and A l l " .  Most often  Williams i s so intent on communing with the nature of things that he makes use of the metaphor of the poem, that i s the discernable object which masks the inner meaning, only so far as i s necessary to communicate his own zation of i t s significance to his reader.  reali-  In a sense, Miss Moore expects a  broader comprehension of her reader i n that she i s careful to present only the thing i t s e l f , as uninfluenced as possible by her emotional perception of it.  However, when Williams uses a typical spring scene to describe rebirth  i n Nature, he not only includes details of the scene before him but comments as well on his reactions to that scene by ascribing to the scene emotions and postures which are, i n r e a l i t y , the poet*s own.  In "Spring and A l l " (p.  spring i s "sluggish" and "dazed", spring enters with "stark dignity".  32)  Miss  Moore, however, i s less romantic; her description i s no less colourful but i t i s more impersonal. A l l along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines _____ Although this picture of spring i s presented clearly, the details are part of an Impressionistic water colouring instead of Miss Moore's fine l i n e strokes  -41of an etching.  The next verses of the poem are p a r t i c u l a r l y t y p i c a l of  Williams: L i f e l e s s i n appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of a l l save that they enter. A l l about them the cold, f a m i l i a r wind — — The primary purpose here i s to evoke a correspondence of awareness between poet and reader, an awareness p r i m a r i l y emotional.  In t h i s sense, neither  Williams or Miss Moore may be considered Imagists or O b j e c t i v i s t s as such since the avowed aim of the Imagists was to free poetry from the encumbrance of romantic and moral a t t i t u d e s .  Concentration on the image being drawn f o r  the reader was the e s s e n t i a l force of Imagist poetry; while i t i s true that both Williams and Miss Moore demand concentration on the object or scene being described, both are equally concerned with the tenor of the metaphor: what moral statement i s being made through an observation of Miss Moore; what kind of appeal Williams i s making to the poetic s e n s i b i l i t y .  Although both  poets are t r y i n g to communicate a t r u t h behind and by means of a metaphor, t h e i r means are d i f f e r e n t : Miss Moore approaches her t r u t h through an appeal to reason, Williams moves by way of the heart. In order to compare t h e i r poetic methods, one might consider a poem which i s b u i l t upon the poet's consideration of an object perceived i n winningly sensual terms, "VII" i n Selected Poems i s a poem about a rose; i n i t , Williams shows a marked s i m i l a r i t y i n s t y l e - that i s i n the language and l i n e structure - and i n theme to many of Miss Moore's poems.  In "Nine Nec-  t a r i n e s " she i s holding f o r our inspection a plate with a picture of a branch bearing a c o l o u r f u l , almost symmetrical arrangement of nectarines, which i s to  -i+2-  be contrasted with a k y l i n which i s superbly enamelled on a piece of porcelain.  The poem follows her characteristic format of unobtrusive rhyme.  Throughout the poem the precise description of the object appeals to the visual sense of proportion as well as colour. Such lines as the following emphasize her efforts to present a graphic almost s c i e n t i f i c a l l y objective impression of what she sees: Arranged by two's as peaches are, at intervals that a l l may l i v e — eight and a single one, on twigs that grew the year before - they look l i k e a derivative; or Fuzzless through slender crescent leaves of green or blue or both, i n the Chinese style, the four pairs* half-moon leaf-mosaic turns out to the sun the sprinkled blush of puce - American-Beauty pink applied to bees-wax grey The f i r s t stanza of Williams * '"VIP' i s very similar i n tone and language: The rose i s obsolete but each petal ends i n an edge, the double facet cementing the grooved columns of a i r - The edge cuts without cutting Williams does not attempt to use the more i n t r i c a t e arrangement of syllables by l i n e as Miss Moore does; yet there i s a unity of sound b u i l t up by his use of variations on the vowel: the "o" i n l i n e 1, "e" i n l i n e 2, and by the use of a l l i t e r a t i o n : "each petal ends in/an edge", "cuts without cutting**.  The  same sound i s familiar i n Miss Moore's cadence of "half-moon leaf-mosaic**. However the difference l i e s i n their use of the object. Miss Moore i s contrasting a badly printed p r i n t of nectarines which look too perfect to  -43be r e a l w i t h an enamelled piece o f p o r c e l a i n o f the "nectar-loving k y l i n / o f pony appearance*".  The l a t t e r , t o her, i s a masterpiece o f Chinese s k i l l be-  cause **A Chinese •understands/the s p i r i t o f the wilderness»**.  The p i c t u r e of  the p l a t e and the p l a t e i t s e l f , on the other hand, serve t o remind the poet t h a t man*s attempts t o i m i t a t e Nature f a i l badly; t h a t p e r f e c t i o n i n A r t r e quires more than s k i l l w i t h the brush but appreciation o f the s p i r i t o f the subject as w e l l .  The "unenquiring brush/of mercantile bookbinding*" was i n -  capable o f a r e a l i s t i c presentation o f the f r u i t which had been painted, along w i t h some i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e horse sleeping beside the shrub o f the nect a r i n e on a p l a t e which i s now "much-mended". W i l l i a m s , however, explores the nature o f the rose i n a l y r i c a l vers i o n o f Gertrude Stein's g r u f f a p p r a i s a l . W i l l i a m s moves from a p r e c i s e desc r i p t i o n of the appearance o f the p e t a l s o f the rose t o a consideration o f them as r e c r e a t i o n i n A r t by man.  I n the s i x t h stanza he r e f e r s t o the time-  l e s s a s s o c i a t i o n o f love and roses, commenting t h a t I t i s a t the edge of the p e t a l t h a t love w a i t s . I t i s here t h a t W i l l i a m s acknowledges the essence of the rose t o be impossible to define or t o r e c r e a t e . geometry".  Such an endeavour " t o engage roses/becomes a  The d e s c r i p t i o n o f the rose i n the f i r s t p a r t of the poem changes;  the poet no longer attempts t o define i t s p r e c i s e o b j e c t i v e shape alone but speaks o f i t i n sensual terms " f r a g i l e / p l u c k e d , moist, h a l f - r a i s e d / c o l d , prec i s e , touching".  F i n a l l y he creates the f i g u r e o f the rose combining both  concrete and abstract images: From the p e t a l ' s edge a l i n e s t a r t s t h a t being o f s t e e l infinitely fine, infinitely r i g i d penetrates the M i l k y Way  -44without contact - l i f t i n g from i t - n e i t h e r hanging nor pushing His f i n a l comment, l i k e t h a t i n Miss Moore's "Nine Nectarines" sounds a f i n a l note of the theme. The f r a g i l i t y of the flower unbruised penetrates space. Both poets make use, i n these s p e c i f i c cases of two o p p o r t u n i t i e s t o s t a t e t h e i r provoking thought behind the image.  I n "Nine Nectarines" Miss  Moore notes t h a t "A Chinese 'understands/the s p i r i t of the wilderness'" (using s i n g l e quotation marks f o r emphasis) and concludes " I t was a Chinese/ who imagined t h i s masterpiece".  Yet Miss Moore i s always concerned w i t h the  nature of the t h i n g perceived i n an o b j e c t i v e sense.  She o f f e r s no d i r e c t  personal observation although she intimates her meaning by her comment on Chinese wisdom. W i l l i a m s does not h e s i t a t e to r e v e a l h i s e f f o r t s to t r y t o a r r i v e a t a comprehension of the t h i n g t h a t i s a rose; i t i s t h i s i n t r u s i o n t h a t marks the d i f f e r e n c e between the poets. poems seem to be concerned w i t h the nature of an o b j e c t :  emotional  Both poets i n these Miss Moore w i t h  what i s genuine and r e a l i n the object i t s e l f as opposed t o what i s a careless a r t i f i c e i n another object; W i l l i a m s w i t h what i s l i m i t e d by sensual perception and t h a t which must be perceived through l o v e .  I t i s w i t h t h i s kind of poem  that W i l l i a m s may be l i n k e d i n the Romantic t r a d i t i o n w i t h W i l l i a m Blake whose double v i s i o n enabled him t o see beyond the l i m i t a t i o n s of the f i n i t e  senses.  Both Miss Moore and W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s are a l i k e , too, i n t h e i r need to see the inner meaning of the outward form; i t i s i n r e l a t i o n to the outward form t h a t they d i f f e r since Miss Moore i s , despite her eye and ear f o r f i g u r a t i v e language, e s s e n t i a l l y matter-of-fact i n expression and o b j e c t i v e i n her approach, w h i l e W i l l i a m s i s emotional, seemingly more anxious to communicate  -45what he sees and b e l i e v e s . So many of W i l l i a m s ' poems seem characterized by h i s immediacy i n the scenes t h a t he d e s c r i b e s . for  the sake of i r o n y .  Miss Moore avoids the s u b j e c t i v e i n s i n u a t i o n unless  However, such a poem as "A Grave" may be seen i n com-  p a r i s o n t o W i l l i a m s "Flowers by the Sea" not only i n terms of the s i m i l a r theme, but i n terms of the imagery used. W i l l i a m s apprehends the nature of the  sea by d e s c r i b i n g the flowers growing i n the pastures beside i t .  To  him, the flowers are moving constantly " t i e d , r e l e a s e d " , so t h a t they are seen as an area of colour and movement, "or the shape/perhaps - of r e s t l e s s ness".  On the contrary, the sea i s almost motionless; when i t moves,  W i l l i a m s does not see the c r e s t s of the waves, the foam, or hear the thunder; he sees "the s a l t o c e a n / l i f t i t s form" and he concludes by saying t h a t "the sea  i s c i r c l e d and sways/peacefully upon i t s p l a n t l i k e stem".  one of h i s c l o s e s t approximations t o the pure imagist form. the  The poem i s Concentration on  object i s r e i n f o r c e d by the d i s t i n c t words and the unobtrusive rhythm.  There i s no more "message" t o the poem than the e x p l i c i t n e s s of the images themselves.  I n h i s poem "The Yachts", the sea becomes a d e l i b e r a t e symbol of  teeming l i f e where those who maneuver the yachts are the wealthy p r o f i t e e r s of s o c i e t y who are t o t a l l y unconcerned about the w e l f a r e of s o c i e t y as a whole.  I n "Flowers by the Sea" he intends no more than the suggestion of the  automatic motion of a l a r g e one-hued body which i m p l i e s peacefulness as opposed t o the v i v i d r e s t l e s s n e s s of f i e l d s o f f l o w e r s .  Perhaps we are t o  t h i n k of the r e l a t i v e immobility of l i f e i n general as opposed t o the conf u s i o n and movement o f i n d i v i d u a l s , but the i m p l i c a t i o n i s unnecessary f o r a s a t i s f a c t o r y comprehension of the poem. In "A Grave" and again i n "The F i s h " Miss Moore uses her imagery  -46-  s p e c i f i c a l l y to make a statement about the nature of the sea.  "The F i s h "  i s more c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to the Imagistic focus on the object i t s e l f since only i n the f i n a l stanza does the poet assess the image of the sea and the cliff.  I t i s obvious that she has meant to point out the i n d e s t r u c t i b i l i t y  of the c l i f f , and of the sea, by her images of the creature which are battered about by the sea and of the scars on the c l i f f made by man.  In a sense, both  Williams and Miss Moore are commenting on the same r e a l i z a t i o n : that the sea i s i n v i o l a b l e , a unity that cannot be d i s f i g u r e d by man.  This idea i s ex-  pressed more e x p l i c i t l y i n "A Grave** i n which the sea i s described as "a c o l l e c t o r , quick to return a rapacious look".  Just as Williams remarked on  the restlessness of the flowers beside the ocean, Miss Moore described the continuous pattern of l i f e moving above, beneath, and beside the sea.  She  concludes by noting that things, be they men's f i s h n e t s , ships, or bodies, i f dropped i n t o the ocean are bound to sink and . . . i f they turn and twist, i t i s neither with v o l i t i o n nor consciousness. I t may be concluded  that William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore,  as well as Wallace Stevens, are d i v e r s i f i e d products of the Imagist  theory.  Each one adapts those parts of the credo that s u i t him best and dismiss others.  I t i s Miss Moore who  regards the o b j e c t i v i t y of her image most ne-  cessary but she expects as w e l l an i n t e l l i g e n t appraisal of the meaning of the object as exemplifying her perception of i t s symbolic value.  Pound be-  l i e v e d i n the natural object as the p e r f e c t symbol as long as the  symbolic  function d i d not obtrude.  In such poems as *»A Grave** or "The Fish** the symbol  and the natural object are indistinguishable, and i n Pound's terms the poems are successful.  In other cases, and often i n her l a t e r career, Miss Moore i s  open to j u s t i f i a b l e c r i t i c i s m .  -47-  FOOTNCTES ?T. S. E l i o t , Introduction to Selected Poems by Marianne Moore (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935)» i*. 28 Bernard Engel, i b i d . , p. 18. ^Marianne Moore, A Marianne Moore Reader, op. c i t . , p. 149. 2  3°R. P. Blackmur, "Masks of Ezra Pound**, Form and Value i n Modern Poetry (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1952), p. 93.  31lbid., p. 248. 3 Bernard Engel, i b i d . , p. 33. 2  33wallace Stevens, ""Adagia,** Prose Keys to Modern Poetry, Karl Schapiro, editor (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), p. lj>7. f  ^"Vallace Stevens, op. c i t . , p. 158. 3^R. P. Blackmur, i b i d . , p. 183. 3 % a l l a c e Stevens, op. c i t . , p. 157. •^Randall J a r r e l l , Introductioh , Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams, (New York: New Directions, 1962),p. x i . w  3 8  Ibid., x i i .  M  -48-  CHAFTER THREE In this third part of the thesis I w i l l consider Miss Moore's poetry i n the spectrum of the f i f t y years that she has been publishing i n American l i t e r a t u r e with particular reference to her most recent poetry. Robert Duncan refers to the "unnecessary conventionality" of her most recent work whose themes she cadges "window shopping among the ads of the New  39 Yorker".  When so many young North Americans concern themselves with the  specific moral issues that modern society has made transparent, Miss Moore's consideration of the Arctic Ox may seem irrelevant; yet the themes of at least a few of the poems despite Mr. Duncan's protest, are assuredly relevant to man's moral condition. I f Miss Moore's precept that poets must be " l i ter a l i s t s of the imagination" who are "above insolence and t r i v i a l i t y " i s to be meaningful surely she would be violating her own standards i f she were to indulge i n mere fancy.  Kenneth Koch, commenting on Like a Bulwark speaks of  her most recent poetry as an imitation of i t s e l f , and more s p e c i f i c a l l y that she seems to have applied her themes to her subject matter instead of aHowirg the moral and i n t e l l e c t u a l comments to grow out of the details that preceded 40 them.  Since the integration of theme, image, and technical s k i l l i s the  basis of the excellence of her poetry, these comments would be damaging to a possible attribute of consistency i n her expectations of her own poetic s k i l l . Hence, i t i s necessary to examine her more recent poems closely i n order to be reassured that her efforts are s t i l l committed to the values that were the stimulation of her e a r l i e s t poetry and to the style that best exhibits those values.  -4-9Her l a t e s t book 0 To Be a Dragon appeared i n 1959 containing f i f t e e n poems.  A f i r s t impression might be that the forms of the poems are simpler  with several poems r e s t r i c t e d to the two-line rhyming stanza. The f i r s t f i v e poems i n the volume range i n length from four to twelve l i n e s , and two of that group Mr. Engel notes have been resurrected from Miss Moore's e a r l i e s t days: "I May, I Might, I Must*' and "To a Chameleon** - the former an assertive statement of man's a b i l i t y to reason and persevere, the l a t t e r a s k i l f u l desc r i p t i o n of the chameleon.  However i f unity of form and thought i s a c r i -  t e r i o n , i n some of her l a t e r poems there are f a i l u r e s .  For instance "Hometown  Piece f o r Messrs. Alston and Reese" i s a fan's t r i b u t e to baseball and to Brooklyn; but the subject i s too t o p i c a l and the s t y l e too forced to establish the  poem with the same degree of excellence found i n e a r l i e r poems.  I t may  be argued that Miss Moore*s intention here was not to produce a "serious" poem but  rather t o amuse her f e l l o w New Yorkers and baseball b u f f s .  she may have succeeded.  In t h i s case  "The A r c t i c Ox (Or Goat)" follows her device of des-  c r i b i n g an animal and elaborating on i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e , but i t i s , as she admits an advertisement.  I f her moral i s that man should make use of natural pro-  ducts without k i l l i n g animals, the poem w i l l be of concern to a n t i v i v i s e c t i o n i s t s only; i f she i s p r a i s i n g the natural and condemning the synthetic, twentieth century man w i l l laugh; i f her object i s to share with her reader her  pleasure i n the antics of the creature, then we can j o i n i n her amusement  with her, but the topic i s a l i t t l e t r i v i a l . The three wish poems "0 To Be A Dragon", "Saint Nicholas" and "For February 14th" are more l i k e the early poems of Collected Poems.  Here the  form i s l e s s obtrusive and the matter of the poems i s more provocative. "0 To Be A Dragon" i s b r i e f , s i x l i n e s , each of a d i f f e r e n t length.  Conse-  quently the rhythm of the poem i s uneven; the e f f e c t i s of a statement o f a  -50desire that impresses us by i t s brevity, and s i n c e r i t y of tone.  Rhyme i s un-  obtrusive: "dragon", "Solomon** and "phenomenon" are the rhyming end-words. The a l l i t e r a t i v e e f f e c t s of the poem r e c a l l one of Miss Moore*s p a r t i c u l a r poetic devices i n which the key words of a l i n e are emphasized by the use of the same sound a t the beginning of each word.  Occasionally the a l l i t e r a t i v e  words echo i n a phrase or sentence that runs on i n t o a second l i n e as i n "symbol" and "silkworm", or "immense" and " i n v i s i b l e " .  The f i n a l l i n e of the  poem i s , simply, F e l i c i t o u s phenomenon. Such a technique, l i k e a l l her other techniques, does not intrude i n the development o f the thought of the poem but i s present by v i r t u e of i t s being a natural means o f conveying what the poet wishes to say.  An e a r l i e r poem,  "Voracities and V e r i t i e s . . . " uses the same device, as i n l i n e 3 of the f i r s t stanza: impelled to plod i n the poem's cause, or i n the f i n a l stanza, l i n e 2: 41 preserve paradise-birds with jet-black plumes With reference t o the "wish" poems, however, although there i s e v i dence of the same concern f o r the e f f i c i e n t and meaningful use of technique to unfold the theme, one i s struck more by the personal tone o f the poems - a tone i n which the f e e l i n g s o f the poet are suggested more overtly than i n most of her previous poems.  The tone i s whimsical with an underlying s e r i -  ousness that i s apparent only at the conclusion of each poem.  In "For Feb-  ruary 14th" the poet asks Saint Valentine which of several varied g i f t s he might prefer, thus reversing the usual procedure of demanding o f him.  The  point of the poem i s made i n the f i n a l l i n e when the poet remarks that we should remember not j u s t that the animals were i n the ark (neatly i d e n t i f y i n g  -51-  S a i n t V a l e n t i n e - the patron s a i n t of b i r d s and beasts) but t h a t the ark was saved: a token of God's l o v e , a reminder of h i s promise to man, then i s the g i f t t h a t K i s s Moore would have us remember. S i m i l a r l y i n "Saint N i c h o l a s " a r e l i g i o u s theme u n d e r l i e s the poem so t h a t the p l a y f u l n e s s of some of her wishes f o r Christmas g i f t s develops i n t o a devout prayer f o r a devine v i s i o n . A second general impression of the poems published d u r i n g the f i f t i e s and s i x t i e s i s t h a t there i s more emphasis i n recounting i n c i d e n t s which have a s p e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r Miss Moore.  "Enough" commemorates the f i r s t  s e t t l i n g o f Jamestown; "Hometown P i e c e . . . " i s w r i t t e n f o r the Brooklyn Dodgers; "In the P u b l i c Garden" was w r i t t e n f o r p r e s e n t a t i o n a t an a r t s f e s t i v a l i n Boston; "Carnegie Hall:Rescued" recounts a c u l t u r a l b a t t l e waged t o the advantage of a r t ; "Rescue With Y u l Brynner" i s a t r i b u t e t o an actor i n t e r e s t e d i n helping refugees; and "To V i c t o r Hugo of My Crow P l u t o " , w r i t t e n i n crowesperanto, i s a t r i b u t e t o a charming p e t .  A l l of these poems are purposeful  and s k i l f u l comments concerning events and persons t h a t Miss Moore has found noteworthy; however, t h e i r v i r t u e l i e s not i n the timelessness of the subjects but r a t h e r i n the enthusiasm w i t h which the poet a t t r i b u t e s t h e i r importance i n t h a t sphere o f human concern i n which she i s i n t e r e s t e d .  This i s not t o  say t h a t the t o p i c a l i t y of the subjects always overshadows a more fundamental s i g n i f i c a n c e : the rescue of Carnegie H a l l from "the c a n n i b a l of r e a l e s t a t e " i s a v i v i d reminder of the m a t e r i a l i s t i c l u s t which disregards both A r t and History.  "Enough" by r e m i n i s c i n g about some of the hardships encountered a t  Jamestown notes t h a t "one can be stronger than events" and concludes by r e a s s u r i n g the reader of the confidence o f the e a r l y s e t t l e r s i n the importance of t h e i r work by the words: I t was enough; i t i s enough i f present f a i t h mend p a r t i a l proof.  -52The change i n subject m a t e r i a l from Miss Moore's e a r l y work t o her l a t e s t might be summarized i n our awareness that she has abandoned the imaginary garden w i t h i t s e x o t i c creatures and curios f o r the outside world of situations.  One cannot say that her concern f o r man has i n any way abated;  indeed by r e f e r r i n g more d i r e c t l y t o h i s a c t i v i t i e s she seems to be approaching him l e s s g i n g e r l y .  As she does so, however, her o b j e c t i v i t y , her sense of  r e s t r a i n t and c o n t r o l i n the texture of the poem seems t o have been neglected and the reader i s overwhelmed by the emotion of the poet as i n "Hometown P i e c e . . . " or the bantering tone as i n "The A r c t i c Ox (Or Goat)"; "Tom F o o l a t Jamaica" or " S t y l e " r e q u i r e the reader t o study the notes t o f o l l o w the poet's i n t r i c a t e references although t h i s i n i t s e l f i s no f a u l t i f the notes are necessary f o r e l a b o r a t i o n o n l y and not f o r a b a s i c understanding o f the development o f thought. I t i s w e l l to remember the method by which she creates the synthesis of thought and technique t h a t c o n s t i t u t e s the wholeness of her poetry and conseqently i t s excellence.  Lloyd Frankenburg approaches h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n of i t s  u n i t y by remarking on the way one perceives the image and the c e n t r a l thought o f a poem. From appearance t o s i g n i f i c a n c e , i n her poems, i s not a distance but, l i k e those f i g u r e s that as we look a t them t u r n from convex t o concave, a change i n our own f o c u s . ^ I n such a poem as "Melchior V u l p i u s " , then, h i s a n a l y s i s f i t s the form and development of thought of the poem. A d e s c r i p t i o n of the musicians»s a r t " t h i s mastery which none can understand" becomes a b u i l d i n g up to the f i n a l magnificent chorus of a great fugue; the procession of mighty words i s the procession o f the mighty peals of the organ.  -53-  Mbuse-skin-bellows *-breath expanding into rapture saith "Hallelujah.'  Almost utmost absolutist and fuge-ist, Amen; slowly building from miniature thunder, crescendos antidoting deathlove's signature cementing f a i t h . 1  The anthem of Melchior Vulpius that i s "best of a l l " to Miss Moore i s the one praising God for "conquering faith", that i s , overcoming man's inability to acknowledge the power of faith; the f i n a l line reaffirms God's omnipotence by saying that i t i s love that establishes faith.  It i s God's love for man that  Miss Moore wishes to acknowledge just as she did i n "For February 14th". This, then, i s the significance of the poem that we see from the focus that readjusts as we look at the "appearance" of the poem. In this case we hear with the poet the music of the composer who i s proving his love for God and his faith by the power of his music. In such a poem as " S t y l e " ^ however, the intricate images of the tennis-player, skater and dancer that are intertwined exist as images appreciable by vision only, reinforced by the metaphors and rhythm of the poem but revealing no inner significance. Miss Moore seems content to assail the reader with clever images: "Escudero's constant of the plumbline", "like a letter from Casals", "As i f bisecting a viper" or "the equidistant three tiny arcs of seeds i n a banana had been conjoined by Palestrina"; but she seems to have no other object than to present metaphors with which to describe the style of her athletes, and no comment on the esstial unity of style and meaning, Mr. Engel declares that Miss Moore's repetition of the names of her performers implies "that better than attempting to describe the indescribable i s a simple citation of examples."^  It may be argued that instead of pre-  tending to surrender to the impossible the poet has been overcome by the  -54overabundance of her examples of s t y l e , as the reader has been overcome by the pointlessness of the poem.  Clever similes are very w e l l but an underlying  purpose i s e s p e c i a l l y important to the unity that one comes to expect from Miss Moore's work. Mr. Frankenburg's perceptiveness i s reinforced by his reference to l i n e s of Miss Moore's already quoted i n much the same context i n t h i s t h e s i s . "Image and idea f i t so intimately ( l i k e "counter-curved twin hazel-nuts") that  46 they exchange c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . "  Miss Moore expresses the same idea i n yet  another poem r e f e r r i n g d i r e c t l y to the poetic performance, Present" (p. 93): •Hebrew poetry i s prose with a sort of heightened consciousness'. affords  "The Past i s the  Ecstasy  the occasion and expediency determines the form. I t would seem that i f either ecstacy or expedience becomes dominant, the f i n e balance of the poem i s l o s t .  Evidence of both mishaps may be found i n her  l a t e r poems. For example, overwhelming emotion i s the outstanding feature of her poem about baseball, emphasized by the rhyming chant of the l i n e s .  A tendency  to be cute i n the manner of Ogden Nash overwhelms any v i r t u e of her d i s s e r t a t i o n on the A r c t i c  Ox: Camels are snobbish and sheep u n i n t e l l i g e n t ; water buffaloes, neurasthenic- even murderous. Reindeer seem over-serious,  The v i r t u e of the "whole poem" i s l o s t i n many cases.  The v i t a l i t y of the  inner consciousness meditating on a thing or an experience that was  meaningful  to her has weakened a l i t t l e to permit the occasional f l i r t a t i o n with a topic or a s t y l e unimportant except to the readers of The New Yorker.  Marianne  -55Moore once remarked  that P r i n c i p a l l y throat, s o p h i s t i c a t i o n i s as it al-  ways has been - at the antipodes from the i n i t i a l great truths. One can only conclude that either she has since forgotten that statement or else i s no longer as interested i n the communication  of great truths.  In  r e f e r r i n g to her poem on Carnegie H a l l Miss Moore remarked that i t was a sub-  47 j e c t that aroused her, and r i g h t l y so.  But the emotion i s i n c o n s i s t e n t l y  proud, p l a y f u l , and sentimental; the allusions are obscure to those who have not  read a p a r t i c u l a r issue of The New Yorker; and the general e f f e c t o f the  poem i s that the poet i s more concerned with the p a r t i c u l a r incident than with the Art.  more profound f a c t of Materialism's nonchalance about the preservation of I t i s true that Miss Moore has always provided notes f o r those interested  i n her references since she i s scrupulous to the point o f compulsiveness about acknowledging her sources; y e t i t would seem that i f notes are necessary f o r any kind of comprehension then the poem does not e x i s t i n i t s own r i g h t . the  On  contrary, a poem such as "The Jerboa" describes the opulence of Roman and  Egyptian c i v i l i z a t i o n s and contrasts the simple needs of the desert r a t . Notes to t h i s poem elaborate on several of the objects that the poet has found i n t e r e s t i n g , but the notes are not necessary f o r the reader to understand the overabundance  that she i s c r i t i c i z i n g .  One need not object t o a poet's eager-  ness to elaborate beyond the body of a poem, but to make such elaboration part of the reader's i n t e l l e c t u a l equipment f o r appreciating the poem i s t o lessen the  spontaneity of the poem and the poetic perception of the reader. Not a l l of Miss Moore's recent poetry, of course, may be disappointing  to the reader accustomed to her e a r l i e r work.  "Charity Overcoming E n v y " ^  with the note beneath the t i t l e (Late-Fifteenth-Century Tapestry, Flemish or  -56-  French, I n The B u r r e l l C o l l e c t i o n , Glasgow A r t G a l l e r y and Museum)"devotes twenty-six of i t s l i n e s to a d e s c r i p t i o n of the t a p e s t r y and the i n c i d e n t t h a t i t d e p i c t s , and four l i n e s to draw the moral t h a t Miss Moore f i n d s there. The u n i t y of the form i s achieved p a r t l y by the use of rhyme or near-rhyme a t the ends of the l i n e s , the "y" sound occurring ten times, and i n three consecut i v e l i n e s , the end words "hurt", " s h i r t " , "hurt", followed l a t e r by the end words " p l o t " and c u t . w  M  Since the characters depicted are Envy and C h a r i t y ,  who i s a l s o r e f e r r e d to as D e i t y and Destiny, the r e p e t i t i o n of the "y** sound does not seem laboured.  The development of the poem f o l l o w s the p a t t e r n of  appearance to s i g n i f i c a n c e so t h a t the f i r s t and longest s e c t i o n of the poem describes i n d e t a i l the i n c i d e n t where Envy, r i d i n g on a dog, i s s l i g h t l y wounded by C h a r i t y , seated on an elephant.  Envy, as Miss Moore notes wryly,  i s obsessed by a greed which s u f f e r s because since of things owned by others he can only take some. The background of the t a p e s t r y i s f u l l y described - the flowers that make up the " f i l i g r e e " - so t h a t the f i g u r e s of C h a r i t y and Envy)stand out i n both v i s u a l and contextual r e l i e f from the i n t r i c a c y of the embroidery: C h a r i t y , r i d i n g an elephant stands on a "mosaic of f l o w e r s , " f a c i n g Envy, the flowers "bunched together, not rooted." Envy, on a dog i s worn down by obsession, ]:his greed ( s i n c e of things owned by others he can only take some). Crouching u n e a s i l y i n the flowered f i l i g r e e , among wide weeds indented by s c a l l o p s t h a t s w i r l , d a i s i e s , pink h a r e b e l l s , l i t t l e f l a t t e n e d - o u t sunflowers, t h i n arched c o r a l stems, and ribbed h o r i z o n t a l l y s l i v e r s of green, Envy, on h i s dog, looks up at the elephant, The names of the flowers l i s t e d one a f t e r the other suggest the appearance of the flowers on the t a p e s t r y - a "mosaic of flowers".  The device r e c a l l s one of  -57Miss Moore's e a r l i e s t poems which contained  a s i m i l a r passage, deleted i n  Collected Poems, but revived i n A Marianne Moore Reader i n "The Steeplejack" (p. 3 ) . ...the trumpet-vine, fox-glove, giant snap-dragon, a s a l p i g l o s s i s that has spots and s t r i p e s ; morning-glories, gourds or moon-vines trained on fishing-twine at the back door; c a t - t a i l s , f l a g s , blueberries and spiderwort, stripped grass, lichens, sun flowers, asters, d a i s i e s yellow and crab-claw ragged s a i l o r s with green bracts - toad-plant, petunias, ferns; pink l i l i e s , blue ^ ones, t i g e r s ; poppies; black sweet-peas. The e f f e c t i n both instances i s pleasing: i n the former poem, the i n c i d e n t a l d e s c r i p t i v e words such as "scallops", " l i t t l e flattened-out", " t h i n arched", and " s l i v e r s " suggest the i n t r i c a c y of the tapestry; i n the l a t t e r example, the emphasis i s on s i z e and i r o n i c a l l y on animals with such phrases as "foxglove", "giant snap-dragon", " c a t - t a i l s " , "spider-wort",  "crab-claw", "tigers".  The longest section of "Charity Overcoming Envy" continues with a r e t e l l i n g of the incident i n which Envy complains b i t t e r l y because Charity has grazed h i s cheek with her sword. cally.  Miss Moore views the s i t u a t i o n i r o n i -  Envy, barely scratched, i s protected by "chest armor over chain mail,  a s t e e l s h i r t to the knee"; the poet remarks that the elephant i s "at no time borne down by s e l f - p i t y " suggesting that the dog i s , as well as by the encumbrance of the armor.  Envy i s reassured that Charity i s hot p l o t t i n g against  him; that i s , that Envy's burden of s e l f - p i t y i s unnecessary.  Charity i s of  necessity bound to Envy since where there i s love there i s greed.  The f i n a l  four l i n e s of the poem reveal the s i g n i f i c a n c e of that bond and of the freedom that Charity may obtain by convincing Envy that her generosity i n dealing him rebuke w i l l not destroy him.  -58The narrative tone of the f i r s t section i s replaced by three assertive  statements. The problem i s mastered - insupportably t i r i n g when i t was impending. Deliverance accounts f o r what sounds l i k e an axiom. The Gordian knot need not be cut.  In other words, problems that are so burdensome as to seem impossible to solve can be solved j u d i c i o u s l y without resort to i l l o g i c a l f o r c e . i t s method and i t s ethic, are " t y p i c a l at her best.  n  The poem,  of what one expects of Marianne Moore  The pattern i s f a m i l i a r - from appearance to significance, pre-  c i s e imagery, i r o n i c a l humour, an underlying moral f o r the observant, the key statement, here at the conclusion of the poem that contains the kernel of her idea and image - the knot, an i n v i s i b l e t i e encompassing Charity and Envy, Good and E v i l , which can be unravelled i n one uses one's common sense and knowledge of man's weakness - i n t h i s case, Envy's s e l f - p i t y . This section has been concerned with the status of Miss Moore's poetry as i t appears now, not so much as i t contrasts or compares with other poetry written today but rather as i t stands up to the expectations she, and her readers, set up f o r i t when she published her f i r s t c o l l e c t i o n of poems i n 1921.  The standard that i s most obvious i s the very care f o r the u n i t y of the  whole poem, although contemporary verse tends to deal i n fragments of experience as more r e a l i s t i c of poetry as a r e f l e c t i o n of man's opinion of himself and of his world.  However, Miss Moore's world i s an ordered one by reason of her own  need f o r order; her v i s i o n of experience i s stimulated by her b e l i e f i n a Christian God; consequently, her poetry i s as ordered as the pattern of her a c t i v i t i e s and her b e l i e f s .  D i s c i p l i n e and i n t e g r i t y are q u a l i t i e s of both  poet and her poetry, and i t i s these q u a l i t i e s that the reader may expect to  -59-  f i n d i n her work t h a t i s b e s t .  To say t h a t she has n o t been c o n s i s t e n t i s  o n l y f a i r s i n c e t h e r e are enough examples o f c a r e l e s s poems where d i s c i p l i n e and  a sense o f p r o p o r t i o n i n a l l a s p e c t s o f t h e p o e t i c s e n s i b i l i t y a r e  missing.  The  v e r y u n k i n d c r i t i c w i l l say t h a t now  recog-  n i t i o n (and  she has  r e c e i v e d a measure o f  t h e r e i s no d i s p u t e t h a t she does n o t d e s e r v e as much as she  r e c e i v e d , and more) she has become c a r e l e s s i n her o b l i g a t i o n s t o her and has  poetry,  a l l o w e d h e r s e l f t o become e n t i c e d by the S c y l l a and C h a r y b d i s o f  fashionable  l i t e r a r y s e a s , t h a t i s The  A f t e r a l l , a n y p o e t who serves  has  New  the  Y o r k e r and Harper's magazine.  wears v e l v e t t r i c o r n s and  frequents  Yankee Stadium  de-  a l i t t l e more t h a n p a s s i n g i n t e r e s t . Any  o f her c r i t i c s who  have d e a l t w i t h the p e r s o n and  the p o e t r y  Marianne Moore, however, w i l l f i n d t h a t such a weakness as a t t e n t i o n t o t e r y i s not p o s s i b l e i n her. published  She  about her work.  t h a t M i s s Moore has d i s c a r d e d animal, i n s t e a d of studying t r a i t s o f man.  Her  flat-  seems o f t e n t o o v e r s t r i v e t o be humble -  i n t e r v i e w s r e v e a l t h i s t r a i t - and  suggestions of others  of  she i s amenable always t o  I t would be more r e a s o n a b l e t o  the suggest  some o f r e t i c e n c e about d e a l i n g w i t h man  the h a b i t s o f o t h e r  animals and  seeing  the  there  s t y l e which demands p r e c i s i o n i s more s u i t e d t o t h e  kind  o f p a r t i c u l a r i z a t i o n t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z e d her e a r l y poems; when she becomes i n v o l v e d w i t h t h e l a r g e r w o r l d o f events ~ included —  h o r s e - r a c e s and b a s e b a l l games  the h a b i t o f d e a l i n g w i t h t h e d e t a i l s t h a t make up the c o l l a g e o f  her o b s e r v a t i o n s  i s out o f p l a c e and  images t h a t have no c o n n e c t i o n ,  the reader i s l e f t with a s e r i e s of  l i k e t h e game t h a t c h i l d r e n p l a y by  connecting  a s e r i e s of dots to form a p i c t u r e .  I f she becomes engrossed w i t h such a  w o r l d so t h a t her o b j e c t i v i t y d e s e r t s  her  and  she becomes j u s t another  i n the stadium, a l b e i t a c l e v e r s p e c t a t o r , her enthusiasm overpowers  spectator her  -60-  attention to the synthesis of a l l the parts of the poem - the s t y l e , the image, the thought, as w e l l as the emotion.  Miss Moore once quoted. Daniel  Berkeley Updike's remark that " s t y l e does not depend on decoration but on s i m p l i c i t y and proportion".^°Not only s t y l e but the thought of the poem i t s e l f depends on proportion.  Dr. Warlow wrote that  To Miss Moore p r e c i s i o n , sometimes referred to as r i g o r or exactitude or scrupulosity, i s the most important aspect of manner or s t y l e and very nearly equates with them and with d i s c i p l i n e and technique. I t insures concreteness and detachment... But as he l a t e r notes, p r e c i s i o n carried to excess creates merely the i l l u s i o n 52 of energy.  Not only i s useless energy produced on the part of the poet but  on the part of the reader who tracks i n vain through the maze of Miss Moore's allusions and clever images.  An early c r i t i c quoted by Dr. Warlow seems to  have scored a point of c r i t i c i s m , no matter i n how f o u l a fasion when she said of Miss Moore: Even a gymnast should have grace...we prefer to see the w e l l muscled lady i n t i g h t s stand on her head smilingly, with a c e r t a i n nonchalance, rather than g r i t her teeth, perspire, and make us conscious of her neck muscles. S t i l l we would rather not see her at all...She shouts at our stupidity...and we yawn back at Miss Moore's omniscience." The c r i t i c expresses an opinion which i s shared by the many who do not apprec i a t e Miss Moore's verse.  The technical d e t a i l s , the attention paid to  minutiae, the juxtaposition of seemingly i r r e l e v a n t observations, a predilection for the language of prose are a l l strange c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of poetry as i t i s popularly read.  Miss Moore demands no more of her reader than he give her h i s  attention and an objective mind ready to perceive what she presents. I f Miss Strobel i s conscious of neck muscles and sweat only, she has missed the point of the e n t i r e performance i n which movement was graceful and flowing.  Better  to compare Miss Moore"s a r t with one of her d e s c r i p t i v e passages i n "Style" -  -61H  glassy lake and the whorls which a vertical stroke brought about,/of the  paddle half-turned coming out.** Criticism such as expressed by Miss Strobel reflects the opinion of the larger reading public.  Although poets such as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound,  Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams have commented favorably about her work, there have been no imitations of her; she i s the founder of no' school whose poets attempt to reproduce her measured syllabic line or engage  54i n observation of beasts and birds.  Poetry traditionally concerns i t s e l f  with man's aspirations and defeats; although Miss Moore's themes are concerned with the moral virtues with which a man may arm himself to deal with society and ultimately to realize his own salvation, she rarely deals with man outright, preferring to use the analogy as a less personal device and as more suitable to her.  -62FOOTNOTES  Robert Duncan, i b i d . , p. 5. ^Kenneth Koch, "New Books by Marianne Moore and W. H. Auden," Poetry 90, 1957, p. 47.  4i This technique i s a f a m i l i a r one i n the h i s t o r y of English verse. Like Miss Moore, Gerard Manley Hopkins also gloried i n the sounds o f words and i n t h e i r meanings; h i s s t y l e was s u f f i c i e n t l y free so that he would hyphenate pleasing combinations of words. Consider, f o r instance, h i s l i n e s This darksome burn, horseback brown His r o l l r o c k highroad roaring down, In coop and i n comb the fleece of h i s foam Flutes and low to the lake f a l l s home i n comparison with those of Marianne Moore: a A brass-green birdwith grassgreen throat smooth as a nut springs from twig to twig askew, copying the Chinese flower piece - businesslike atom or The pin-swin or spine-swine (the edgehog miscalled hedgehog) with a l l h i s edges echidna and echinoderm i n distressedpin-cushion thorn-fur coats, the spiny p i g or porcupine  42 Lloyd Frankenburg, "The Imaginary Garden," Q. R. L., IV, 2, p. 194. cit.,  ^•^Marianne Moore, "Melchior Vulpius", A Marianne Moore Reader, op. p. 71. "" ^'^Marianne Moore, "Style", A Marianne Moore Reader, op. c i t . , p. 58.  45 Bernard Engel, i b i d . , p. 139. ^LloydjFrankenburg, i b i d . , p. 196. ^Marianne Moore, "An Interview With Donald H a l l " , A Marianne Moore Reader, op. c i t . , p. 259. ^^Marianne Moore, "Charity Overcoming Envy", The New Yorker (March  30, 1963).  49 The second stanza quoted here (..."cat-tails...black sweet-peas") d i d not appear i n Selected Poems. Presumably Miss Moore has lengthened the d e s c r i p t i o n o f the seaside to achieve unity of appearance. 7  -63-  FOOTNOTES ^ Marianne Moore, "Humility, Concentration and Gusto" from P r e d i l e c tions as reprinted i n A Marianne Moore Reader, op. c i t . , p. 123. ¥. Warlow, "Marianne Moore: U n f a l s i f y i n g Sun and S o l i d Gilded Star" (unpublished d i s s e r t a t i o n , The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,  1959), P. 100.  5 I b i d . , p. 103. 2  •5%arion Strobel, assistant editor of Poetry, as quoted by F. W. Warlow, i b i d . , p. 154. 5«R. P. Blackmur suggests that the l a t e r Cantos of Pound show the i n fluence of Miss Moore's attributes of neatness of f i n i s h and accuracy, i n other words, her p r e c i s i o n of form and thought. See h i s chapter on her method i n Form and Value i n Modern Poetry, op. c i t . , p. 249.  -64-  CONCLUSION In h i s chapter e n t i t l e d "The Method of Marianne Moore**, R. P. Blackmur speaks of her method as ...not only pervasive but i n t e g r a l to her work. I t i s i n t e g r a l to the degree that, with her s e n s i b i l i t y being what i t i s , i t imposes l i m i t s more profoundly than i t l i b e r a t e s poetic energy.55 I t has been the purpose of t h i s thesis to defend Miss Moore*s poetry against a charge of l i m i t a t i o n i n any sense, and to set f o r t h the f i r s t and most s i g n i f i c a n t premise of her work as a desire f o r a poetic synthesis, a harmony of a l l parts of form and matter.  I t i s t h i s p r i n c i p l e that l i b e r a t e s the poetic  energy that i s acknowledged by Miss Moore as the source of her poetry, her "spontaneous i n i t i a l originality**.  I t would seem to many that synthesis,  that i s a deliberate u n i f i e d and i n t e r r e l a t i n g pattern, and spontaneity of the imaginative impulse are incompatible.  Poetry i s often regarded,  especially  by our own troubled generation, as a release f o r the burdened psyche. quently, Miss Moore may  Conse-  seem to many to be old-fashioned, quaint, a symptom  of an e a r l i e r era i n which r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n was asl.important to a poem as the q u a l i t y of i t s d e s c r i p t i o n , and i n which a moral as such was not out of place. The incredulous reader may have to be reminded that Miss Moore was long considered avant-garde, and that even i n the l i g h t of very recent poets, her verse i s s t i l l "free verse** i n the sense that i t does not impose r e s t r i c t i o n s on the imagery and l o g i c a l flow of the poem.  -65-  "What has been stressed i s the need t o understand t h a t any r e s t r i c t i o n t h a t may seem t o e x i s t w i t h regard t o form or t o emotional involvement of the poet i n her subject i s a r e s t r i c t i o n only t o the reader who i s not aware of what Miss Moore i s t r y i n g t o say.  Miss Moore i s always aware o f the e t h i c a l  o b l i g a t i o n s and need o f man; such an awareness, a f t e r a l l , i s s a i d t o be the f i r s t step i n b r i n g i n g order t o confusion, whether i n the whole o f c i v i l i z a t i o n or i n the conduct o f one i n d i v i d u a l .  C h r i s t i a n f a i t h goes even f a r t h e r t o  a s s e r t t h a t the observance of an e t h i c a l code i s a response t o man's o r i g i n i n a d i v i n e power, t h a t man i s c l o s e s t t o God when he observes the moral v i r t u e s t h a t are characterized by l a c k o f self-preoccupation and h u m i l i t y .  Miss Moore  concerns h e r s e l f w i t h subjects, no matter how widely v a r i e d , t h a t s t r e s s those v i r t u e s although they may be obscured by a s u p e r f i c i a l appearance.  J u s t as an  underlying order i s the strength o f her philosophy, an underlying order o f form i s the foundation o f her p o e t i c a l method t o express t h a t philosophy. Language and rhythm flow n a t u r a l l y , charged w i t h the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f the ideas t h a t they impart, but they are incorporated w i t h i n a form t h a t i s n e i t h e r so s u b t l e t h a t i t i s s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e nor so b l a t a n t t h a t i t overpowers the ideas t h a t d i r e c t i t s course.  I f the v i r t u e s she admires and deems necessary f o r  man are h u m i l i t y , i n t e g r i t y , independence and purposefulness, v i r t u e s w i l l be found i n her poetry.  then those  P r e c i s i o n i s s a i d t o be her concern,  p r e c i s i o n t h a t admits no excess but i s a means t o and an expression o f purp o s e f u l d i r e c t i o n . Her poems are p r e c i s e ; her references may seem incongruous at f i r s t glance but there i s an e s s e n t i a l order i n t h e i r appearance. I t may be concluded then, t h a t although an i n i t i a l spontaneity of imp r e s s i o n i s important t o the poet, what she does w i t h t h a t impression i s as  -66-  important to her as the o r i g i n a l impetus.  She has v e r i f i e d that the natural  music and combinations of words, i n terms of meaning, of the  conversation  about her, as w e l l as the prose works of other w r i t e r s , provide a stimulus f o r her c r e a t i v i t y .  Her sense of order, her need f o r the symmetrical ex-  pression i s brought to bear on the language she hears; yet, order, because of i t s rooted place i n her own personality, does not bring a r e s t r i c t i o n to her creative e f f o r t .  That i s , i n t e g r a l to the understanding and appreciation of  her poetry i s the r e a l i z a t i o n that aspects of technique and thought merge and u n i f y to e x h i b i t the poetic synthesis that i s the whole force and beauty of her poetry.  I t i s not enough to speak of the s u i t a b i l i t y of her language or  the effectiveness of her borrowed quotations  as a means of conveying the sub-  stance of her thought and the power of her imagery, not i s i t enough to comment r e s p e c t f u l l y on the i n t r i c a c y of her poetic technique.  Miss Moore i s  determined to pierce through the world of outer appearances to the inner world of s p i r i t u a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , a dual world where one i s the s h e l l to contain the other.  S i m i l a r l y her poetic form i s the s h e l l that protects the v i r t u e s that,  i n turn, protect and invigorate man  i n h i s s p i r i t u a l quest.  Reference has  been made to s p e c i f i c poems that best reveal the unity that i s her ultimate purpose, and although there i s a consistency throughout her f i f t y years of w r i t i n g poetry, i t i s her e a r l i e r poems that most e f f e c t i v e l y reveal the synthesis that characterizes what i s her best work. I t i s not necessary to f i t her work into a scale of popularity that measures one poet i n terms of another, nor should we assume that one poet's influence upon another or upon many i s a t e s t of h i s greatness,  T, S, E l i o t  has spoken of her •'genuineness'', best described as her unshakeable b e l i e f i n the i n t e g r i t y of the poem as a vehicle f o r the most profound observations  of  -67-  the poet.  Miss Moore's poems at t h e i r best are free from any charge of so-  p h i s t i c a t i o n and t r i v i a l i t y .  Her subjects always involve man, although he  may not appear d i r e c t l y i n the poem; c e r t a i n animals are discussed because they possess q u a l i t i e s which man would do w e l l t o c u l t i v a t e i n h i s own character.  Above a l l , her means o f carrying out her philosophy of poetry which she  has expressed i n both poetry and prose, has been an i d e a l expression of that philosophy; her poems have both imaginary gardens and r e a l toads, both equally necessary f o r the whole experience which she has committed h e r s e l f to bring to the attention of others.  -68FOOTNOTES  55  R. P. Blackmur, "The Method of Marianne Moore", i n Modern Poetry (New York* Doubleday Anchor Books, 1952)  Form and Value p. 156.  -69SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  Primary Sources;  Moore, Marianne.  A Marianne Moore Reader.  , C o l l e c t e d Poems.  New York;  The M a c m i l l a n Company,  , Like a Bullwark.  New York:  The V i k i n g P r e s s ,  , 0 t o Be a Dragon. , Predilections.  New York;  , S e l e c t e d Poems. • ' _  •  ,  The Absentee.  New York;  The V i k i n g P r e s s ,  New York;  New York;  , The F a b l e s o f L a F o n t a i n e .  The V i k i n g P r e s s ,  New  York;  1951.  1956. 1959.  1955•  The M a c m i l l a n Company, House o f Books,  I96I.  I963.  The New Y o r k e r , March 30,  , " C h a r i t y Overcoming Envy,"  •  New Y o r k ; The V i k i n g P r e s s ,  1935*  1962.  The V i k i n g P r e s s ,  1954.  Secondary S o u r c e s ;  Blackman, R. P. "The Method o f Marianne Moore",Form and V a l u e i n Modern P o e t r y . New Y o r k ; Doubleday Anchor Books, 1952. Borroff, Marie.  "Moore's 'The I c o s a s p h e r e ' " E x p l i c a t o r XVI, Item  Bromige, D a v i d . "Some Notes Toward a P o e t i c " . o f B r i t i s h Columbia, 1964.  21.  Mimeographed n o t e s , U n i v e r s i t y  Carey, S i s t e r M. C. "The P o e t r y o f Marianne Moore; A Study o f Her V e r s e , I t s Sources and I t s I n f l u e n c e . " U n p u b l i s h e d D o c t o r a l D i s s e r t a t i o n . University o f W i s c o n s i n , Madison, 1959. Deutsch, Babette.  P o e t r y Handbook.  E n g e l , B e r n a r d F.  Marianne Moore.  New York; G r o s s e t and Dunlap, New  I962.  Haven; C o l l e g e and U n i v e r s i t y Press.1964.  Frankenburg, L l o y d . "Meaning i n Modern P o e t r y , " terature, XXIX no. 12 (March 25, 1946).  The S a t u r d a y Review o f L i -  F r o s t , R o b e r t . " E d u c a t i o n by P o e t r y : A M e d i t a t i v e Monologue", Reader. New York; W. W. N o r t o n . I965. Hopkins, G e r a r d Manley. G e r a r d Manley Hopkins. M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, L t d . , 1953.  E d i t e d by W.  The N o r t o n  H. Gardner.  -70-  J a r r e l l , Randall. "Two Essays on Marianne Moore", Poetry and the Age. New York: Vintage Books, 1953. Poetry.  XLVII, , XC,  I936  1957.  Quarterly Review of L i t e r a t u r e .  Marianne Moore issue.  IV, 1948.  Rees, Ralph. "The Imagery o f Marianne Moore." Unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania State, 1956. Sergeant, Winthrop. "Humility, Concentration, and Gusto," The New Yorker, XXXII (February 16, 1957). Stevens, Wallace.  Poems. New York: Vintage Books,  1947.  va^ , "from «Adagia*" i n Prose Keys to Modern Poetry. ahapiro. New York: Harper and Row, I9"62I  Edited by K a r l  Williams, W i l l i a m Carlos. Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams. Edited by Randall J a r r e l l . New York; New Directions, 1963. Warlow, F. W. "Marianne Moore: U n f a l s i f y i n g Sun and S o l i d Gilded Star." Unpublished d i s s e r t a t i o n , The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,  1959.  Yeats, W. B. "Lapis L a z u l i " , A L i t t l e Treasury of Modern Poetry. Oscar Williams. New YorkT Scribners, 1952.  Edited by  

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