Marianne Moore

(November 15, 1887 – February 5, 1972 / Kirkwood, Missouri)

Poetry


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
unintelligible,
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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Elizabeth Douglas (6/8/2008 8:32:00 AM)

    I think this poem is saying realize that you will not always understand the poet or the stanzas but that there is a true sparkle behind both of them. (Report) Reply

  • Simone Carson (7/24/2006 1:25:00 PM)

    This poem is extremely moving to those who see poetry as a way of life; something ethereal and genuine, one of the same (Report) Reply

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