I, too, dislike it.
Thus begins Marianne Moore's "Poetry," an epic piece that I don't completely understand and probably operates on some sort of syllabic plane that I can't wrap my head around. Factor in all that indentation stuff going on (which happens a lot in Moore's poems)...and there's a lot going on that I don't necessarily "get." But, that being said, it's one of my favorite poems ever.
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.
Read it in its entirety here.
From what I've read this week about Moore, poetry scholars either really, really like her...or not. I'm certainly not ready to digest her complete works or anything, but she wrote many poems in addition to "Poetry"that I enjoy. I'll start with a short one:
"I May, I Might, I Must"
If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
I will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.
This has to be the most accessible of Moore's poems. It gets a lot heavier...
Those Various Scalpels
various sounds, consistently indistinct, like intermingled echoes
struck from thin glasses successively at random—
the inflection disguised: your hair, the tails of two
fighting-cocks head to head in stone—
like sculptured scimitars repeating the curve of your
ears in reverse order:
flowers of ice and snow
Finish reading it here. How can you not love that? I am a firm believer that a poem is like a work of art. It's meant to be enjoyed. It's meant to be experienced. I don't need to understand it to enjoy it. And I enjoy it even more because of the obvious brilliance of Marianne Moore. Even if I don't get it, I respect it...I'm awed by it.
Here are a few others to try:
Stay tuned for our number 8 poet in the countdown. It should be up and ready for Poetry Friday. In the meantime, read about number ten, Lucille Clifton. And spend some time chewing on this:
What Are Years
What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt, —
dumbly calling, deafly listening—that
in misfortune, even death,
and in its defeat, stirs
the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.
So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.