Poetry according to Marianne Moore

Marianne Moore shared her views on poetry in the eponymous poem “Poetry.” It isn’t all about those who are famous.

Marianne Moore shared her views on poetry in the eponymous poem “Poetry.” It isn’t all about those who are famous.

Marianne Moore
Marianne Moore in 1935
Source: Wikimedia Commons

About this poem

When Moore was alive (1887 – 1972) there was no internet. At least, there wasn’t “a” internet the way we nowadays know. There was this connection of computers and servers known as the ARPANET (started in 1969). People weren’t able to read as much poetry as we now can. In her time, poetry was read in books and new poets had to work very hard to reach a wide audience. People had to “deal” with exactly that type of poetry described by Moore: the poetry that isn’t honest or sincere. Because of what was considered good or bad in literature, people read these words. Even if they could not relate to them or they were just poorly written. Times have changed, but there is still a large group of people all over the world, who read certain poetry just because they feel the need to read it. Not because it is good because the poet is or was famous.

The poem Poetry might as well be our anthem. The anthem of The Ministry of Poetic Affairs. Instead of focussing primarily on the well-known poets, we give a platform for anyone who writes poetry. Therefore, we are able to understand what Moore left us in this literary legacy.

This poem has been published a few times (1935, 1951 and 1967). This version is that of 1967. At that time, Moore was eighty years old. This is a poetess, who seems to have this wonderful writing skill that combined her memories, her wit and her irony into a great work of art. It is a lesson for anyone who believes poetry should be about those famous poets, who got their earnings a long time ago. Sure, they deserve credits. We must never forget those talented poets. Many of them never get their work published. Therefore, social media like Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook are a great way to share poetry. Another great way to share poetry: let us do the work for you. Consider us to be your platform to share and promote your work!



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 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 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 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 autocrats 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, 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.

— Marianne Moore


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