Marianne Moore Newsletter - Volume 4 Number 2 Fall 1980
Marianne Moore Newsletter
Volume IV Number 2 Fall 1980
[inside front cover]
MARIANNE MOORE NEWSLETTER
Volume IV, Number 2, Fall 1980
"Baby opossum" drawn by Marianne Moore,
28 August 1936.
All previously unpublished material by Marianne Moore is published here by permission of Clive E. Driver, Literary Executor of the Estate of Marianne C. Moore.
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Copyright © 1981
by Clive E. Driver
Literary Executor of the Estate
of Marianne C. Moore
Marianne Moore Newsletter
Volume IV Number 2 Fall 1980
THE NOTES TO "SPENSER’S IRELAND"
The books and articles to which MM refers in her notes to "Spenser's Ireland" provide contexts for parts of the poem and show her method of finding affinities among seemingly disparate materials. Of the poems's 67 lines (counting the title as line one, as MM did), forty have their genesis in the works noted. The six notes appended to the poem are derived from four sources, namely single publications by four Irish writers: novelists Maria Edgeworth and Donn Byrne, storyteller Padraic Colum, and boatman-bard Denis O'Sullivan.
MM made extensive use of "Ireland: The Rock Whence Was Hewn" by Donn Byrne in The National Geographic Magazine, 51 (March 1927), 257-3l6. In his somewhat polemical and spirited description of Ireland, Byrne was writing for an American audience, among whom he lived in New York for many years. He tries to disabuse future tourists of certain ideas held by Ireland’s "Saxon neighbours," for example, that the "Irish bull" (a locution like "If that colt could catch the other, he'd beat him!") has no subtlety, or that all Irish stories are about little people. He ranges over Irish history, language, customs, scenery and monuments, concluding on a note of dissatisfaction that the "New Ireland" has not attained his dreams.
The first aspect of the article on which MM draws is Byrne's comment on Irish language and names. MM's "Every name is a tune" (line 5) was inspired by a list of town names and their translations. Byrne says that while in some countries, there are "names like a bar of music," their meanings are no longer alive. In contrast, "Our names are still alive in Irish speech. Aderg means the Red Ford, . . . Booleyhasruhan, the Milking Place of the Little Stream, . . . Killabrick the Wood of the Badger. . ." and so on for about fifty names (pp. 261-63).
Elsewhere, Byrne describe Irish servants who
. . . have a pathetic loyalty. They are often of a carelessness which drives a sane man mad. But no tongue-thrashing will affect them. They will say: "Ah, sure, himself doesn't mean a word of it! 'Tis only a gray day in his heart." The only discipline you can use is to forbear speaking to them for some days. This is torture.
MM turns this comment into her lines 6-8:
Denunciations do not affect
the culprit; nor blows, but it
is torture to him to not be spoken to.
A photograph of red-skirted boys suggested lines 31-32: 'Outwitting / the fairies." In Connemara, boys redressed in "red flannel petticoats in order to deceive the fairies who are supposed . . . to run away with male children if they have the opportunity, but will not touch little girls" (p. 314).
"Chesaing the Fairies"
Along the Connemara coast, boys were dressed in red flannel skirts up to the age of twelve. Fairies were thought to spirit off male children. The Irish believed that they would mistake the skirted boys for girls, whom they would not touch.
Three other photographs prompted lines 45-53:
Concurring hands divide
flax for damask
that when bleached by Irish weather
has the silvered chamois-leather
water-tightness of a
skin. Twisted torcs and gold new-moon-shaped
lunulae aren't jewelry
like the purple-coral fuchsia-tree's, Eire—
so neat and the hen
of the heath and the
linnet spinet-sweet—bespeak relentlessness?
First, a weaver is shown at a hand loom, making table damask: "Some of the linen is so fine that it resembles silvered chamois leather. . . and will hold water. . . . The thread is woven unbleached and the cloth is bleached
Irish ornaments, with torcs and lunulae clustered at the lower left and two gold lunulae at the lower right.
afterward on the wide lawns of the mill" (p. 264). Page 279 shows "a collection of old Irish ornaments," among them an "assortment of torcs and . . . gold lunulae." Page 317 offers a colored photograph of a grandmother, knitting, in front of a fuchsia-tree whose bi-colored flowers are best described as "purple-coral. "
MM's last selection comes from Byrne's discussion of Irish peasants: "When they are young they are supple as a larch. When they are old they have the kindness and sanity of a gnarled apple tree. Always, your trouble is their trouble and your joy theirs" (p. 261). MM rephrased the comment and made it a question:
The Irish say your trouble is their
trouble and your
joy their joy?
It should be noted that MM's lines 6-8, concerning "torture to him to not be spoken to," were applied in their original context to servants. The first reference to Castle Rackrent, which MM embeds in her next lines, 9-12, also concern a servant:
the coat, like Venus'
mantle lined with stars,
buttoned close at the neck, — the sleeves
new from disuse.
Drawing on her copy of Maria Edgeworth's Stories of Ireland: Castle Rackrent and The Absentee (London: George Routledge, 1892), MM chose the opening self-description of Thady Quirk, the narrator-family retainer whom the Rackrents call "Poor Thaddy"
for I wear a long great coat1 in winter and summer, which is very handy, as I never put my armes in the sleeves; they are as good as new, though come Holantide next I've had it these seven years: it
holds on by a single button round my neck, cloak fashion.
The footnote is Edgeworth’s own. In it she cites Spenser's "View of the State of Ireland" as the authority for the cloak's "high antiquity," offering his many proofs from the history of the Jews, Chaldees, Egyptians, et al: ". . . the Greeks also used it anciently, as appeared by Venus' mantle lined with stars." Then she invokes Spenser's knowledge of "the convenience of the said mantle as housing, bedding and clothing:
Because the commodity doth not countervail the discommodity; for the inconveniences which thereby do arise are much more many; for it is a fit house for an outlaw, a meet bed for a rebel, and an apt cloak for a thief.
from the second part of the footnote, MM takes Spenser’s remark about the discommodity of the cloak’s ability to cover up riffraff as well as the loyal servant and saves it for the end of the poem where it joins the "Earl Gerald" story: "Discommodity makes / them invisible" (11. 61-62).
From The Absentee, MM draws material for lines 38-43:
When large dainty
fingers tremblingly divide the wings
of the fly for mid-July
with a needle and wrap it with peacock tail,
or tie wool and
buzzard's wing. . . .
On pages 163-164 of MM's edition, Edgeworth sets a hilarious scene wherein sportsminded houseguests of Lady Dashfort collect two British officers and impose on Count O'Halloran to request permission to hunt on his lands. The British officers make fools of themselves in trying to show off their limited knowledge of fly-tying to the count, an expert at the craft.
First, they tell him how to tie a feather: ". . . and then, Sir Count, you divide your wings with a needle." Then, the count produces a basket of his flies:
There was the dun fly, for the month of March; and the stone-fly, much in vogue for April. . . . "and chief, the sad-yellow fly, in which the fish delight in June; the sad-yellow-fly, made with the buzzard's wings, bound with black braked hemp; and the shell-fly for the middle of July, made of greenish wool, wrapped about with the herle of a peacock's tail, famous for creating excellent sport."
A gentleman to the quick, the Count gives the flies to the officers, noting that since he had made them, they are "of Irish manufacture." The British officers never catch on that they have been bested by the Irishman, a man whose pride "is in care, not madness."
In her notes, MM refers to a work by Denis H. O'Sullivan as the source for the "guillemot" in line 53 and the "linnet spinet-sweet" in line 56. It is unlikely that O'Sullivan's Happy Memories of Glen-Garriff (Dublin, n.d.) would have survived had MM not kept a copy herself. It is a 16-page pamphlet of poems by "The Bard of Glengarriff," a boatman whose work was to row tourists around Bantry Bay, Cork. From these jaunty verses, MM admired two phrases: "the guillemot so neat" and "'Tis there you’ll hear the linet so equal with the spinnet." Not given to modesty about Bantry Bay or himself, O'Sullivan repeatedly applies "so neat" to flora and fauna and advertises his fame:
As Denis H. O’Sullivan is recommended here,
By this well known writer, G. B. Shaw who says
he ne'er had found
A Boatman guide my equal for knowledge, wit
For truthfulness and humour around the Irish
Like Donn Byrne, Padraic Colum was an Irish writer who spent much of his time in New York. Like
O'Sullivan, he strains credulity, although through fantasy rather than hyperbole. MM heard Colum tell the "Earl Gerald" story at a lecture (he published it in The Big Tree of Bunlahy, New York, 1933). From this tale comes inspiration tor lines 15-20 where the question is posed: "If in Ireland they
. . . gather at midday the seed
of the fern, eluding
their "giants all covered with iron," might
there be fern seed for unlearn-
ing obduracy and for reinstating
and lines 58-61:
they are to me
like enchanted Earl Gerald who
changed himself into a stag, to
a green-eyed cat of
the mountain. Discommodity makes
them invisible; they've dis-
In "The Wizard Earl," Colum tells that one who gathers fern-seed unseen on Midsummer's Eve gains the power of invisibility. Earl Gerald tried to do so, but was seen. Later, his wife begged him to show her his wizard's shapes. After obtaining her promise not to be frightened and thus make him disappear against his will, Gerald became first a stag, then a "cat of the mountain," and then himself in miniature form. All went well until the castle monkey swept up the tiny Earl, the Countess screamed in fright, and the Earl disappeared forever.
Discommodity, that makes the Earl Gerald invisible (lines 62-3), circles back to Spenser's comment on the discommodity of the coat which could make an outlaw invisible. Although MM wrote to a student (T.L.C. to John D. Sheehan, 22 March 1955) that "Spenser’s Ireland" was "too opportunistic a title," it is the Elizabethan poet's Ireland, as transmitted by Maria Edgeworth, that
MM describes. MM went on to say: "I had in mind the appearance of Ireland, and the Irish idiosyncrasies as seen in Maria Edgeworth’s Ireland - Thady Quirk, for example. . . — his coat worn as a mantle, 'the sleeves new from disuse.'" Edgeworth, Spenser, Byrne and Colum, whose writings were the chief inspiration for the poem, share MM's intent, best expressed in the introduction to her copy of Castle Rackrent. There, the editor, Henry Morley, quotes Sir Walter Scott on his debt to Maria Edgeworth and his desire to do for his island what she had done for hers, namely to "'introduce her natives. . . in a more favourable light than they had been placed hitherto, and tend to produce sympathy for their virtues, and indulgence for their foibles.'"
"COUNCELL TO A BACHELER"
On permanent exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, are a group of wooden sweetmeat trenchers, each about six inches in diameter and decorated with flowers and short verses. MM saw one of these in the Bodleian Library in 1911 and later modified it. The original verse read:
If thou bee younge then marie not yett
If thou bee olde thou hast more wytt
For younge menns wyves will not bee taught
And olde menns wyves bee good for naught
MM published her version in 1914 in the Bryn Mawr Lantern (Vol. 21, Spring, p. 106) and in Poetry (Vol. 6, May, 1915, p. 71). In Poetry it read:
COUNSEIL TO A BACHELER
Elizabethan Trencher Motto — Bodleian Library:
[with title and modification of second line ]
If thou bee younge, then marie not yett;
If thou bee olde, then no wyfe gett;
For younge mens' wyves will not bee taught,
And olde mens’ wyves bee good for naught
Elizabethan Trencher, Courtesy The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The Lantern version has slight differences in punctuation and the title: '’Councell to a Bachelor." MM made one correction on her copy of the published Poetry version, changing the first word of the title to "Councell."
THE CARRIAGE FROM SWEDEN
MM's note on a manuscript of "A Carriage from Sweden" reads "reinspired by the Seven Seas & New York Times May 27, 1943". The chief components of the poem's inspiration appear to be four: a Swedish Cart once in the collection
The Brooklyn Museum. Used with Permission.
of the Brooklyn Museum; "Pastoral Canal" by Robert Mountsier in Seven Seas (Summer, 1938), 16-18,29; Peasant Art in Sweden, Lapland and Iceland, edited by Charles Holme (London: 'The Studio,' Ltd, 1910); and "A Modern Hermes from Sweden" by Albert H. Brandt, New York Times Magazine, 27 June 1943.
Briefly stated, the historical and scenic imagery is drawn from the Seven Seas article, the peasant art imagery from The Studio publication, and the "runner called the deer” from the New York Times Magazine article, about the Swedish track star Gunder Hagg who, in competition, "relaxes completely like Jim Thorpe", according to MM’s notes. But the original and chief inspiration was the Swedish cart in Brooklyn.
On 6 April 1931 MM visited the Brooklyn Museum and saw, according to her appointment book, a "Swedish carriage." Its impact was described by her mother a few years later (A.L.S. to John Warner Moore, 11 May 1934):
At the Brooklyn Museum there are things I could scarcely bear enjoying as I did when we first came
to B(rooklyn) because (Marianne) and I were alone, and so greatly needed to show them to our family. First of all, a coach from Sweden, carved with roses. . . .
Pictured here is the carriage, "something that makes me feel at home":
Seats, dashboard and sides of smooth gourd-
rind texture, a flowered step, swan-
dart brake, and swirling crustacean-
tailed equine amphibious creatures
that garnish the axle-tree!
By the time MM began her poem, the carriage was a "put-away/museum-piece" that none could see because it had been deaccessioned by the museum. Sold in 1937 to Schniter and Son, New York dealers, the only known photograph of it is the one reproduced here from the Brooklyn Museum Quarterly. 16 (July 1929), 80.
If the carriage survives, information leading to its whereabouts and photographs of its "dolphin-graceful” details would be appreciated by the Editors and readers of MMN.
MM SURVEYS ENGLISH LITERATURE, 1914-1920
On 9 April 1920, MM responded to a contest held by The Athenaeum (London) for essays on English literature since 1914 by submitting this manuscript. The essays were due on 19 April, and it is likely that MM’s contribution arrived toolate to be considered for publication. The following transcript is taken from MM's carbon copy, which is all that survives of this record of her reflections on this subject, written during the first week of April, 1920. It Is printed here not as finished work but as documentation of MM's interests at the beginning of her career as a critic.
ENGLISH LITERATURE SINCE 1914
by Marianne Moore
There has appeared since 1914, a large company of young writers and as part of the body of English literature which has added to itself since 1914, there is the work of James, Conrad, Hardy, W. H. Hudson, Yeats, Shaw, Sir James Barrie, Chesterton, Robert Bridges, Arthur Symons, Max Beerbohm, May Sinclair, Laurence Housman, and Maurice Hewlett.
Awareness and an unwillingness to compromise, either in technique or in choice of subject, are characteristic of James. There is upon his work, no tincture of that which is extraneous. The war imposed its weight upon him but even throughout the war--in The Ivory Tower, in The Middle Years, in Notes of a Son and Brother--he is preeminently the connoisseur--one who knows and delights in knowing.
There is a hard-twisted, aristocratic quality in Conrad, a cumulative strength in his emphatic, expertly narrated tales. The Arrow of Gold with its description of the Paris retaurant, its house with the black-and-white marble floor, and its conversational sword-play, has perhaps more intrinsic fascination than there is in Victory or The Shadow Line but Victory with its peremptory theme, courage, is more powerful than either.
Hardy is an "interpreter of life through the emotions." James has characterized the restlessness and the crafty behavior of the lover but no one has so circumstantially depicted lovers, as Hardy, "Where the Picnic Was," "The Sun on the Bookcase," "Outside the Window," "In the Moonlight," "A Thunderstorm in Town" are testimony. His sentence structure is wrought iron tracery upon which one may look or lean; in his fastidiousness he is a prototype of the abbey mason, who "closlier looked and looked again." In conversation,
an unintentional rhyme is undesirable and Hardy's intentional rhymes come to one occasionally with a sense of uneasiness, but to attempt to consider separately his prose and his verse is to lose his essential quality.
Arose the howl of wakened hounds;
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into the mounds,"
Is not this one with the description of the baptism in Tess of the D'Urbervilles?
Hudson is given over to precise seeing. He has predominently the scientific attitude of mind in conjunction with spiritual vision. Progress that is all but imperceptible--few are able to understand it, much less tell of it; under Hudson’s pen, the drama of life proceeds with an eagerness and poignancy that call the most sluggish reader to attention. Note in The Book of a Naturalist, his reconciliation to "the pig—to look at which made him sick, as it stood belly deep in the fetid mire;" his comment elsewhere, on the blister beetle: "As a small boy I was . . . . . . . incapable of entering into the bitter feelings of our elders with regard to it. Its appearance excited me and had the exhilarating effect produced by any and every display of life on a great scale;" his appreciation of the lemur, monkey-like in form but without the monkey's angularities and that appearance of spareness which reminds one of a naked half-starved Hindoo." "He has a better proportioned figure for beauty," says Hudson, "and his dark, richly colored coat of woolly fur gives a pleasing roundness to his form." Note in Far Away and Long Ago, this Ezekiel’s vision, entitled "A Serpent Mystery." In a moment or two the flat head was lost to sight among the closegrowing weeds but the long body continued to move slowly by — so slowly that it hardly appeared to move . . . . . It had the appearance of a coal black current flowing past me — a current not of water or other liquid but of some element such as quicksilver."
In Yeats there is instinctiveness, consciousness of power and accuracy — a distinguishing self-forgetfulness, a sense of forest depths. In his prose perhaps more than in his verse, as he proceeds in obedience to one knows not what great power, he is the giant which a dwarf is leading by a thread.
Shaw is aristocratic in feeling and it is his ambition to be well rounded. He cannot in a straight forward, compelling manner, write a love scene; instead of doing it, he takes refuge in a quibble or a prank, which is intrinsically droll but is aesthetically irrelevant. He has a relish of what is modish and deft, and is a pastmaster of the off-hand dry remark. Despite what is said, his prefaces are not more interesting than his plays but they are stunning, arresting, unusual and his mental equipment is so good that one experiences exhilaration in reading him.
Dear Brutus by Sir James Barrie, sets forth the possibility of finding happiness in the situation in which one is; it is an exposure of the notion that the preeminent need of "the man" is to be understood, understanding being synonymous with flattery and adulation. Along with the satirizing of man's vanity, is shown the butler's need of marriage with a lady of rank and the very real poverty of the childless parent. As a piece of war literature with its tenderly cared for alien babies, A Kiss for Cinderella is more notable perhaps, but life is warfare and in Dear Brutus, the author gives us not only peace but victory.
It is a pleasure to watch the play of Chesterton's mind. One is reminded of Leigh Hunt's pleasure in the grasshopper—dizzy vaulter in the sunny grass; but to center too much attention upon his method is to miss his wisdom; the absolute soundness of his observation, his instinct for the droll and for the essential, obviate the need for analysis. Quoting from The New Renasence, "To amuse one's self is a mark of gaiety, vitality and love of life. To be amused is a mark of melancholy, surrender and a potentiality of suicide.
Robert Bridges imparts an understanding of life. There is human depth in his warning to England not to be guilty of what it is that she hates in her enemies. There is the philosophic instinct in the earlier lines:
"They that in play can do the thing they would,
Having as instinct throned in reason's place,
These are the best."
Perhaps as a poet, he says what he says too completely; it is in his address on "The Necessity for Poetry" that the poetic faculty in him, triumphs over form.
Gordon Craig has the capacity for taking pains; he is the exemplar of his own precept that one who is in earnest need not act out of time. Like the roc's egg in Sinbad the Sailor, his imagination divides the sea to the very bottom. In The Theatre Advancing, he says of "On Baile’s Strand," "The whole play is alive without any doubt; it moves, it moans, it cries —it reaches out its hands to you: and when the tragedy has been enacted and the doors have closed, the voices wail behind the doors and like the waves and wind, rise, fall and break their soul upon the barriers; they reach through to one's heart, they pierce the walls and drown us in a spiritual ecstasy."
George Moore’s experience of life has been exceptional and there are phases of life with which he is not familiar but it is his idiosyncrasy not to qualify. In Hail and Farewell he says, "We never grieve for anybody, parent or friends as we should like to grieve and are always shocked by our absentmindedness." Could any statement be more characteristic of this writer? His Avowals are laughable, "a joyous composition" written as he says Lewis Seymour and Some Women was written, "out of the heart’s abundance." One harks back to Esther Waters and looks forward with inquisitiveness to the feast which in Heloise and Abelard, Mr. Moore has in preparation for the book speculator and for the few who are able to buy his books with a view to keeping them.
As J. A. Symond's contribution to the last few years, we have amid the laurels which cover the agonies of war—Figures of Several Centuries, gleaming with color, texture and articulateness. Conspicously felicitous is the essay on Lamb and perhaps exceeding it is the one on Pater, in which occurs the amusing characterization of Pater's slowness in speech: "I remember a beautiful phrase which he once made up in his delaying way, with 'wells' and 'no doubts' in it, to describe, and to describe supremely, a person whom I had seemed to him to be disparaging. 'He does,' he said meditatively, 'remind me of, well, of a steamengine stuck in the mud. But he is so enthusiastic!"
In the range and particularity of Max Beerbohm's observation, in his ability to let himself be transported with the felicitousness of an idea, there is great charm and like Trollope, he often sets forth a great principle in the satirizing of a little one. In Seven Men, The Happy Hypocrite, Fifty Caricatures and Twenty-five Gentlemen, we are aware of his iridescence but not in any of them is his fundamental quality so clearly felt as in his introduction to Dixon Scott's Men of Letters.
There is power in The Sheepfold by Laurence Housman. As one follows the triumphs of the heroine and looks for a triumphant denouement, one is, in the face of her disappearing so softly, overawed as by a great silence; never has the anguish of life been more faithfully depicted nor the possibility of its amelioration by a childlike spirit. The method of the book combines sternness with poetic sensibility.
Miss Sinclair is accurate in analysis, truthful and witty. In The Belfry, the flavor of life is sharper perhaps than it is in The Tree of Heaven or in Mary Olivier.
Maurice Hewlett has not given us any more Little Novels of Italy and as has been said, his treatment of the sagas is one, of which the authors might hardly approve but in his craftsmanship and his instinct for
the elusive, he partakes of the exotic beauty of the lizard and the heron.
A notable recent contribution to literature is Henry F. Jones’s life of Butler. The book does not rely for its interest upon one's interest in Butler; there is in it, the intrinsic fascination that there is in Diversions in Sicily.
The opinion of those who write books has more weight than the opinion of those who read them, but the opinion of those who read is not negligible and the prejudice in favor of E. F. Benson is great. As a worker in words, he exacts so little of himself that his dominion over even the uncritical, excites wonder. In Up and Down, however, the sense conveyed of peace in Italy before the war, is only less marvellous than that which controls Francis and his companion after war has been entered upon. Mr. Benson speaks of "comfort-smothered" England and in the simplified necessity that comes with war, makes Francis to say, "I used to want such a lot of things. Now, there is a growing pile of things that I don’t want."
There is in Sir Harry Johnston, perfect candor, a passion for versimilitude, and a craftsmanlike use of knowledge. His description of life at an English country-house is full of fascination and one delights in his dislike of mawkish sentimentality and of the obvious. His sentence structure is characterized now and again by a series of preliminary clauses much as the following passage is made up of similarly patterned sentences. "Imagine his disgust at finding Scottish deer forests are only open moors interspersed with Irish bogs . . . Imagine him stodging and squelching for hours over this rainsoaked moss and heather . . . Imagine the dreary waits . . . Imagine the weather more than commonly fiendish and imagine him being put to bed in a high fever, the result of eight successive chills, in a sumptuous bedroom with a roaring fire—at last."
Compton Mackenzie has not Gilbert Cannan's feeling for form but despite a limpness, a wilfulness, a com-
placency in the face of his inadequacy as a dramatist, there is in his work much that is poignant, poetic and dramatic. In volume two of Sinister Street, Oxford life is depicted with particularity and distinction; in Guy and Pauline, the author achieves a unified atmosphere, and in Svlvia Scarlet, his wit takes such form as: "He will invite a certain number of the most representative and least representational modern painters from whom you may make your choice. There are the Ovists, who maintain that everything resolves itself into ovids— the Blanchists who maintain that there is no such thing as color; their pictures depend on the angle at which they are hung. Then there are the combinationists; they don't repudiate color hut they repudiate paint."
In the case of James Joyce as in the case of the zebra, a cross section will not suffice and the complete aspect is bewildering. Beauty is torture to him and one feels in him, the need of synthesis. He bears out George Moore's remark that "youth is an unhappy time, art and sex driving us mad and our parents looking on with stupid unconscious eyes." He strikes one as being a fugitive from the past rather than as a dweller in the present but despite his sensitiveness as of the barometer to spiritual disturbance, he leaves his impress.
It is as a critic—one is tempted to say as a recorder—that Frank Harris interests one. There are m his criticism, an economy of statement, a matter-of-fact air which rivet the attention. In the chapter on Anatole France in Contemporary Portraits, he says of Maitre Jerome Coignard: "he becomes the most lovable of scapegraces and the finest portrait of Anatole France himself. We enjoy his company much as we should enjoy Hamlet speaking in person."
Inspiration is, in maturity, more a phenomenon than it is in childhood but in The Young Visitors it attains its consummate flower. The book to an astonishing degree illustrates the instinct of the craftsman and its characterizations, epithets and
exclamations rejoice the heart with their unbelievable felicity.
Through the thickness of war clouds, come Padraic Colum's:
"No bird that sits on rock or bough
Has such a front as thine;"
"O woman, shapely as the swan,
On your account I shall not die,"
and The Girl Who Sat by the Ashes, whose geese coming home with a "two days’ hunger upon them, had a thinness that might be measured."
First hand knowledge of the dog and of the horse are not to be counterfeited and in Reynard the Fox, John Masefield has it. That the rhymes should be farfetched occasionally is not so remarkable as that, in so long a poem, there should be so many rhymes that are conspicuously fit.
Hueffer is in his criticism, in his study of Henry James for example, inclined to be didactic and is sometimes praiseful without being convincing; to rival, however, his earlier Ancient Lights and New Reflections would be well nigh impossible. In view of his unwillingness to be imposed upon, his willingness as a poet, to dispense with armour is an achievement.
John Cournos in The Mask and in his introduction to Andreyev and Solugub, has the disciplined perception, the steadiness, and the intensity without exaggeration, which one expects to find in literature that is specifically of the war.
Richard Aldington in his translations of Anyte of Tegea, is as The Spectator has said, "exact without being pedantic and in his original poems, sings as a Greek might be supposed to sing who has been taken from the Athens of Pericles and turned loose in the London of the County Council."
There is in Ezra Pound, "a natural promptness," an energy, an instinct for literature. He remarks in the preface to Romance, that it is his wish to instruct painlessly and in this book, in Pavannes and Divisions and in the Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry prepared in collaboration with Fennolosa, one will have noted the same momentum that there is in his poems and translations.
In H. D., the core of the thought is so much the whole, that one congratulates one's self upon having seized it when there is so little body to lay hold of. Intensity, a passion for beauty, and faultless technique characterize all that she has done and the combined result is as of a miracle—an orchid or a translucent piece of floating seaweed. In Hymen, A Marriage Pageant, so inseparable are the thought and the mode of expression that it is useless to attempt to disassociate them.
The sheen upon T. S, Eliot's poems, the facile troutlike passage of his mind through a multiplicity of foreign objects recall the "spic torrent" in Wallace Steven's Pecksniffiana. Mr, Eliot does not mar his subject by overdoing it and he does not bring too heavy a touch to bear on it. His nonchalence together with his power of implication make him one of the definite spirits of our time.
Wyndham Lewis, in The Caliph's Design and in Tarr, is cluttery and gives the impression of brooking no interference, but his immediacy is valuable.
There are others: D. H. Lawrence, Harold Munro, J. C. Squire, Iris Tree, Anna Wickham. Siegfried Sassoon, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell; time fails to mention all who have made strong, the body of English literature in the past six years. "This is the millenium of English literature and we are they who do these things:" we are familiar with this attitude to literature. A saying more full of implication, is that of William Marion Reedy: "What we need is freedom with responsibility."
FANEUIL HALL'S GRASSHOPPER
the summer when Faneuil Hall
had its weathervane with gold ball
and grasshopper, gilded again by
a -leafer and -jack.
till it glittered.
— "In the Public Garden"
The clipping of the regilding of the Faneuil Hall weathervane to which MM referred in her note to "In the Public Garden," comes from the Christian Science Monitor, 20 September 1946. It was sent to MM by Kathrine Jones, a friend from Brookline, Mass.
THE COMPLETE POEMS OF MARIANNE MOORE
First issued in 1967, Marianne Moore's Complete Poems was reissued in a definitive edition by the Viking Press on 17 February 1981, The text conforms as closely as is now possible to the author's final intentions. Five of the poems written after the first printing of the volume have been included. Late authorized corrections, and earlier corrections authorized but not made, have been incorporated. Punctuation, hyphens, and line arrangements silently changed by editor, proofreader, or typesetter have been restored. Misleading editorial amplifications of the notes have been removed.
Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from MM's poetry in the MMN will be taken from this edition. It is available at bookstores at $16.95.
Complete Poems has been selected by three book clubs: Book of the Month Club, The Quality Paperback Book Club, and Reader's Subscription. Although the book club "editions" offer some external variants, the text is the same as that of the regular edition.
H1LDEGARDE WATSON’S MEMOIR
The Edge of the Woods: A Memoir by Hildegarde Lasell Watson, Rochester, New York, 1979. Privately published by her husband, Dr. James Sibley Watson, Jr., Mrs. Watson's memoir contains both descriptions of and quotations from MM as well as recollections of Scofield Thayer, e. e, cummings, Gaston Lachaise, Alyse Gregory, Llewelyn and John Cooper Powys, and
other friends from The Dial. It abounds in photographs, including rare pictures of Mrs. Watson as Lot's wife in the film, Lot in Sodom. Copies are available at $18.00 from Mrs. J. Sibley Watson, Jr., 6 Sibley Place, Rochester, NY 14607.
MM IN BROOKLYN
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn presented a joyous celebration honoring MM on 16 November 1960. The morning worship had as its theme "The Faith of Marianne Moore," addressed in the sermon by the pastor, Dr. George Litch Knight, to whose congregation MM belonged .
Dr. Knight spoke about MM as an active Christian of long Presbyterian lineage. When asked about MM’s faith, he said, "In every instance I have replied that she was a Christian, Her theological insights were uncanny; an involvement with WORDS gave her a very special concern for meaning in terms of the Christian Faith." Illustrating these points were quotations from notes MM had written to Dr. Knight, several of which were printed in the bulletin for the day.
The music for the service was selected from a list MM had given Dr. Knight of her favorite hymns. Among the selections were Bach’s "Now thank we all our God," Virgil Thomson's setting of the Twenty-third Psalm, and Melchior Vulpius' "Now God be praised."
At a gathering after the service, the church soloists sang settings of MM's poems by Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem and Karl Fahnestock. Master of ceremonies Edward J. Moran called on the audience for reminiscences of MM and on Marie-Louise Bishop for a description of her research on MM’s poetry and her place in the American Protestant tradition.