Biography Aesthetics Reception Texts
Moore, “Feeling and Precision” "Feeling at its deepest--as we all have reason to know--tends to be inarticulate. If it does manage to be articulate, it is likely to seem overcondensed, so that the author is resisted as being enigmatic or disobliging or arrogant.” —1944
Interview with Donald Hall The accuracy of the vernacular! That's the kind of thing I am interested in, am always taking down little local expressions and accents. I think I should be in some philological operation or enterprise, am really much interested in dialect and intonations. I scarcely think of any that comes into my so-called poems at all. —1961
“Good stealers are ipso facto good inventors.” —Marianne Moore
T.S. Eliot I am writing to thank you for your review of my essays in the Dial. It gave me pleasure, and still more pleasure to be reviewed by you, as I have long delayed writing to you, in fact since the 1917 Others, to tell you how much I admire your verse. It interests me, I think, more than that of anyone now writing in America. —1921
William Carlos Williams There is no work in verse being done in any language which I can read which I find more to my liking and which I believe to be so thoroughly excellent. You have everything that satisfies me. I omit the catalogue. No, I won't. Your words have an immediate quality which only comes when the intelligence matches the acuteness of the sensual perception to which you add an aimed heat of the emotions, without which there can never be anything but blur. —1932
Ezra Pound Writes of the work of Mina Loy and Marianne Moore, and describes it as "logopoeia or poetry that is akin to nothing but language, which is a dance of the intelligence among words and ideas and modification of ideas and characters. Pope and the eighteenth-century writers had in this medium a certain limited range. The intelligence of Laforgue ran through the whole gamut of his time. T.S. Eliot has gone on with it. Browning wrote a condensed form of drama, full of things of the senses, scarcely ever pure logopoeia. One wonders what the devil anyone will make of this sort of thing who has not in their wit all the clues. It has none of the stupidity beloved of the 'lyric' enthusiast and the writer and reader who take refuge in scenery description of nature, because they are unable to cope with the human.” —1918
Bryher The temperament behind the words is not a passive one, however much environment may have forced meditation upon it as a form of 'protective coloration.' The spirit is robust, that of a man with facts and countries to discover and not that of a woman sewing at tapestries. But something has come between the free spirit and its desire—a psychological uneasiness that is expressed in these few perfect but static studies of a highly evolved intellect. —1922
P. Andelson Marianne Moore has much the Emily Dickinson type of mind, but where Emily Dickinson's not infrequent obscurities arise out of an authentic mysticism, Marianne Moore's are more likely the result of a relentless discipline in the subtler 'ologies' and 'osophies.' She is brilliant at times to the point of gaudiness, although one feels that in her brilliance she is most herself. —1922
Marion Strobel Even a gymnast should have grace. If we find ourselves one of an audience in a side-show we prefer to see the well-muscled lady in tights stand on her head smilingly, with a certain nonchalance, rather than grit her teeth, perspire, and make us conscious of her neck muscles. Still, we would rather not see her at all. Just so we would rather not follow the contortions of Miss Moore's well-developed mind—she makes us so conscious of her knowledge! And because we are conscious that she has brains, that she is exceedingly well-informed, we are the more irritated that she has not learned to write with simplicity. —1922
Harriet Monroe Unquestionably there is a poet within the hard, deliberately patterned crust of such soliloquies as Black Earth, Those Various Scalpels, Pedantic Literalist, Reinforcements—almost any of these titles—though a poet too sternly controlled by a stiffly geometrical intellectuality. Miss Moore is in terror of her Pegasus; she knows of what sentimental excesses that unruly steed is capable, and so her ironic mind harnesses down his wings and her iron hand holds a stiff rein. This mood yields prose oftener than poetry, but it wrings out now and then the reluctant beauty of a grotesque, or even, more rarely, such a lyric as Talisman. —1922
To A Snail If “compression is the first grace of style,” you have it. Contractility is a virtue as modesty is a virtue. It is not the acquisition of any one thing that is able to adorn, or the incidental quality that occurs as a concomitant of something well said, that we value in style, but the principle that is hid: in the absence of feet, “a method of conclusions”; “a knowledge of principles,” in the curious phenomenon of your occipital horn.
wade through black jade. Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps adjusting the ash-heaps; opening and shutting itself like an injured fan. The barnacles which encrust the side of the wave, cannot hide there for the submerged shafts of the sun, split like spun glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness into the crevices— in and out, illuminating the turquoise sea of bodies. The water drives a wedge of iron through the iron edge of the cliff; whereupon the stars, pink rice-grains, ink- bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green lilies, and submarine toadstools, slide each on the other. All external marks of abuse are present on this defiant edifice— all the physical features of ac- cident—lack of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and hatchet strokes, these things stand out on it; the chasm-side is dead. Repeated evidence has proved that it can live on what can not revive its youth. The sea grows old in it. The Fish
No Swan So Fine "No water so still as the dead fountains of Versailles." No swan, with swart blind look askance and gondoliering legs, so fine as the chintz china one with fawn- brown eyes and toothed gold collar on to show whose bird it was. Lodged in the Louis Fifteenth candelabrum-tree of cockscomb- tinted buttons, dahlias,sea-urchins, and everlastings it perches on the branching foam of polished sculptured flowers--at ease and tall. The king is dead.