Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972), a Modernist poet known for her irony and wit (so says Wikipedia), was born in Kirkwood, Missouri, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Her first poems were published in 1915, and she came to the attention of Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. She became editor of The Dial literary journal, and helped launch the careers of poets Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashberry and James Merrill.
Her Collected Poems (1951) won the Pulizer Prize, the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize. She died in 1972 in New York City.
Her most famous poem is “Poetry” (1919), which is included in the Colelcted Poems.
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 that there is 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 be-
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 some-
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll,
a tireless wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twinkling his skin like a
horse that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician – case after case
could be cited did
one wish it; nor is it valid
to discriminate against “business documents
school-books”; all these phenomena are important.
One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half
the result is not poetry,
nor till the autocrats among us can be
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 one hand,
in defiance of their opinion –
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness, and
that which is on the other hand,
genuine, then you are interested in poetry.
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