Marianne Moore

Observations: Poems

“[On Poetry] I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.”

American poet Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972) was a prominent modernist poets of the 20th century. With precise language, illusive and yet understandable imagery, and learned tributaries to literature, she shone.

Contemporary poets took note: T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound encouraged her to publish. But Moore was strategic, she knew she wasn’t ready. She reluctantly published Observations, in 1924, to great acclaim.

There is a brilliant – and authentic – vulnerability in Moore’s poems. Longing. Her writing demonstrates a heroic effort to care, to notice, to pay attention. She is intelligent and playful, however, not mournful like Dickinson. My favorites, of course, are the poems about the ever-purposeful snails “curious phenomenon of your occipital horn” and octupi “made of glass that would bend.”

The call to care reverberates throughout humanity. From Irving Yalom’s position that human connectivity is an antidote to fear of death to Rachel Carson’s urgings to embrace the environment as interconnected with humankind.