Poetry about Poetry

Something by Marianne Moore as we continue our journey through National Poetry Month.  In this piece, Marianne wonders about just what poetry is and why it can be so alluring…

by Marianne Moore

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important
                         beyond all this fiddle.
    Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it,
                         one discovers in
    it after all, a place for the genuine.
        Hands that can grasp, eyes
        that can dilate, hair that can rise
            if it must, these things are important not
                         because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but
                         because they are
    useful.  When they become so derivative as to become
    the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
        do not admire what
        we cannot understand: the bat
            holding on upside down or in quest of
                         something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
                         wolf under
    a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a
                         horse that feels a flea, the base-
    ball fan, the statistician --
        nor is it valid
        to discriminate against 'business documents and

school-books'; all these phenomena are important.  One
                         must make a distinction
    however: when dragged into prominence by half poets,
                         the result is not poetry,
    nor till the poets among us can be
        "literalists of
        the imagination" -- above
            insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, 'imaginary gardens with real toads in
                         them', shall we have
    it.  In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
    the raw material of poetry in
        all its rawness and
        that which is on the other hand
            genuine, you are interested in poetry.

From: Poetry Out Loud Edited by Robert Alden Rubin, Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1993, pp. 192-193.


About notjustweather

Dave Linder: Meteorologist, computer scientist, writer... and one who enjoys a well-timed quick quip.

Posted on April 14, 2008, in Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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