Marianne Moore Newsletter - Volume 6 Spring and Fall 1982
Marianne Moore Newsletter
Volume VI Spring & Fall 1982
[inside front cover]
MARIANNE MOORE NEWSLETTER
Volume VI, Numbers 1 & 2, 1982
SPECIAL DOUBLE ISSUE
Leopard drawn by Marianne Moore at the Washington Zoo
All previously unpublished material by Marianne Moore is published here by permission of Clive E. Driver, Literary Executor of the Estate of Marianne C. Moore.
Subscription: Two issues a year. Spring and Fall.
U.S.A.: $4.00 a year; Foreign $4.50
Subscriptions run for calendar year in which placed. Automatic renewal and billing available. Back Issues available as issued at $3.50 except Volume I, Number 1 available in photocopy only. Please make cheques payable to the Rosenbach Museum & Library.
Contributions welcome on all aspects of MM and her work up to 1,000 words. Deadlines: Spring, February 1st; Fall, October 1st.
Address correspondence to Patricia C. Willis, Editor, MMN, The Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2010 DeLancey Place, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Copyright © 1983
by Clive E. Driver
Literary Executor of the Estate
of Marianne C. Moore
Marianne Moore Newsletter
Volume VI Spring & Fall 1982
A SUMMER IN BRITAIN AND FRANCE, 1911
MM’s first trip abroad began on 27 May 1911 when Marianne and her mother set sail from Philadelphia bound for Liverpool aboard the Friesland. MM wrote regularly to her brother during the summer (although letters written during the last two weeks of June have been lost). The Moores returned to Philadelphia from Le Havre on the Chicago, landing on 27 August, exactly three months after they set sail.
The Moores depended upon their Baedekers for Great Britain, London, and Paris for itinerary and sightseeing. The guides' great detail provided more than enough information for the most avid tourist, and MM's well-thumbed copies bear witness to her reliance upon them. Many of the places visited reflect MM’s life-long interests: Oxford, The British Museum, the homes of Thomas Carlyle and Victor Hugo, collections of armor, London's Zoo—all of potential importance to her poems.
Visits to art galleries provided an opportunity to see not only the works of the old masters but also those of the pre-Raphaelites, probably the most "modern" works in the museums. And it is remarkable that the future modernist poet knew where to purchase Ezra Pound's Personae and Exultations in London, a year before the official beginning of the "renaissance" of poetry in the little magazines.
In addition to MM’s letters, there remain letters written at the same time by Mrs. Moore which fill out travel plans and complement MM's letters. The latter are reproduced here with absolute fidelity to orthography and grammar with the exception of the addition of periods omitted in haste at the ends of sentences and the insertion of closures of quotations. Brackets and parentheses in the bodies of the letters are MM's. The strikeouts indicated in the texts were made by MM both while writing the letters and at some later date.
The following itinerary is keyed by number to the accompanying map, The signal [°] marks approximate dates. The dagger [t] indicates day trips from London.
Correspondent to the Egg: 3rd day out
General Fangs a good Sailor.1
In a white yachting costume, his elbow on the rail, field glasses in his hand, General Fangs is seen in conversation with the Captain. He is a favorite with all on board, and is admired for his geniality and the varied knowledge of engineering acquatics and the aeri-
aerial region, which renders picturesque his discourse. He is despite his prominence conspicuous for modesty and the remark to his Bunny2 made in the leading dialect of the Provençal tongue may be taken as an evidence of parental solicitude for the tiny quadruped, "La mer n’est pa trop mauvaise pour ma Long Ears"—the retention of the Anglo Saxon Long Ears, being but another evidence of his unaffected simple nature.
The general is a favorite with the little ones. They climb upon him, searching the interstices of his yachting attire for animal crackers. He executes little sketches of a whimsical character and keeps those made in return by the children. (See top of page.)3 Needless to say the General is never separated an instant from his own Bunny. The latter presses against his "pocket," the pressure only being remitted during sleep. This is attributed by some to fear. It is however but an evidence of affection so natural under existing circumstances.
The general has not experienced a moment's dizziness and evinces his usual avidity for pie, raisin cakes, welsh rarebits and duck gravy. At meals the General holds the Bunny on his knee after moving cruets, salt seller and his grape juice, (uunfermented) out of reach.
The General is an inveterate reader. His preference for the Egg is a matter of common dining room talk. This is attributed to his love of politics but the dilation of his poison spots in disapprobation and contumely when his eye encountered the statement that “gators can do without voting"4 leads the correspondent to suppose that motives of local and personal interest account for his preference.
So long old Spine-y Backed Dinosaur.
Your to be fossilized-in-love --
Chester, June 8.
15 City Wall
We have had a day and a half if wrinklybacks ever did. There is a popular tree outside the window beside a
wall with broken glass bottles on it and two cats impassively eyeing one another and an old fashioned garden down below. We arrived at 12 from "L. Pool" as they write it on the trucks and drays there, took a cab here and looked at the garden, walked for 15 minutes and had luncheon.
Merciful beeswax! if you could see the trains. The "Great Western" Engine is the size of George's push cart, and the compartments are like the drawing room of a pullman minus the pullman fittings. You see cows standing round pools of water and hear birds singing just the way you do in "tales" of old England and billions of hedges. This town is all on the order of smoke shops and stucco work and Dutch tea rooms and the imitation English you see in Amurrika. There is a beautiful city wall, complete all round of heavy stones with steps descending here and there into the town, a ruined Church, (grass and mouldering stone) and a Cathedral in preservation. The Church is near Grosvenor Park. It is a peach, with holly trees and plants and winding walks, beside the Dee, the River Dee, (not so wide as the Creek5 or about the same width). On the Dee was boating and canoeing and little steamers, everything like a Willow Grove6 pond in ship shape. On the other side was tennis and golf and "all over England" the girls ride bycycles. We went I saw a man in a brown coat and white flannels riding a little girl in a pink dress, on his shoulder and a woman running over the ground with a tea basket. It is the most English thing you could imagine. At supper the maid said, "Mrs Moore there is a young gentleman to see you. " It was the Lattings and Mr. and Mrs. Price and Miss Price. The boys were dressed to kill with straw hats and canes; (and pumps and brown tennis shoes respectively.) I looked at their feet and groaned. You never saw such feet as the Englishmen "wear," drawn up in a peak on the ankle and generally made of dongola. Mr. Price laughed when I mentioned the feet and said, "There's no right and left to them." And Harry Latting said "They look at your feet and turn around and stare, as if you were some wild animal." We bought some cherries this afternoon and ate them as we went along the street, looking at old shops and houses, and I bought some
crayons for "9-pence." The accent bowls me over. I nearly clapped when the man at Liverpool at Cooke's counter next to us said, "What a rotten country this is getting"! I wish old fellow you were seeing it. It seems an outrage. I don't see what possessed us to pole off alone.
We heard an anthem at the Cathedral at Vesper service that was better than any opera I have ever heard, and I made a drawing. There will certainly be a hallelujah when we go round these places with old Bullifant ears "en croupe."
So long old Bird.
Life is so exciting that I don't know whether Im on my sidewheelers or my tail fins. We left Chester Friday and after sundry changes arrived at Lakeside. We went through Grange-over-Sands--, estuaries of the Sea--, with Africas of sand and museums of sandpipers and then we took a boat up the lake. A little orchestra played and the man collected coins in a conch shell. Then we arrove here. Ambleside is a Fallowfield fox country, fine asphalt turnpikes and stone walls with green hedges and rhododendrons pouring over the top and precipitate green hills. There are lots of sheep and the turnpike is dotted with coaches and butchers carts. One coachdriver we saw was the regular old thing in a red suit, with sideburns and a high hat.
I saw a dipping pen this morning for sheep and a group of kennels, fox hound kennels, also a birds nest in a stone wall (with birds in it.)
There is a Yorkshire commercial traveller here, (for a spirit firm.) He is worth the costs. He’s taking his vacation, wears knickerbockers and carries a cane
as everybody does here. He walks with a nodding motion of the head and is slightly bowlegged. He told me a couple of stories I have written down. We took the Walmsley’s Irish terrier for a walk last night. I had him on a leash, or a chain rather, and he wouldn't come at first. "Shood I take him?" Mr. Taylor said. I said Yes and Mr. Taylor wrapped the chain around his hand and without any concern, started off, and said "Coom on, laddie" and made him trot along.
We went to Grasmere yesterday by a foot path. I have never seen such scenery. The houses are stuck down in a variety of trimmed and clipped fancy shrubs just like a Pennocks bouquet,7 and though it hasn't rained for weeks everything is green and shiny. The laurels and rhododendrons are sewn through the place. Dove Cottage is a little white place with old walls and low ceilings and there was a little red fire of coals in the kitchen. The garden is the prettiest thing about it with a flagstone walk winding up the hill for about 5 yards and bowers of vine and box and stuff closing it in at the back. We’re going to stay all week and then go to Glasgow.
Be good to yourself and go strong on the ale. I am glad you took Eunice to the Bellevue.8
Tuesday June 20
The old oaken bucket has come up with a gator in it, in the precincts of Glasgow. It is a great old place, "not so select as Edinburgh," Mrs. Bain informs us but there is enough forthcoming to content fringe-fangs. We enrouted from Ambleside to Keswick yesterday. It was a perfectly glorious ride. We had a good coachman who cracked his whip and rounded up to the station in fine style when we got to Keswick and dropped a word now and again on the mounds of stones on famous high-
waymen as we went along; and the haunted houses and the peaks and streams and even roses. He pointed out Nab Cottage where Coleridge lived and the Swan near Grasmere, an Inn where Wordsworth drank a Bunny B. [wink!] or similar beveridge and a house where Shelley lived. We walked up a part of the Dunmail Raise a long pull between two Mountains, inspected the gills and bees and tarns and toddling lambs. The fells are covered with sheep in fact there are so many Bunny felt slight incentive to paddle them. We also saw Wythburn church next to smallest in England.
At Keswick we had two hours, about. We fed at the Keswick station hotel. Had an excellent fish, cold chicken, bread apple tarts, cheese and crackers. . . they call crackers over here, "biscuits" and petrol or gasoline for cars and motors, "Motor spirits." "Pratts Motor Spirits" is a prevalent ad. even in Ambleside.
We had a good deal of fun in Ambleside with an English Congregational Minister and family
bt they made us so mad we nearly kicked up the milking pail every feeding time. Mr. Taylor was our standby and Mr. Caisely a Scotchman and Miss Brooks, an American. But that is a chapter in itself. Mr. Taylor said, "He's not got much under his hat, that chap." And after a moment of vicious reflection he said, "He's a thorough cad." The man would ask us, "Hev you heard of William Morris?" Or, "You're really more Scotch or Irish, than American. You say 'Verra;'" or, "and hev you good water in America. Do you get nice streams from the Rocky Mountains?" All this incensed Mr. Taylor and us too but the fellow was too much of a dolt to boomerang effectively.
Mr. Taylor, Mr. Caisley and the elder Mr. Walmsley went on an all day walk up Fairfield Mountain peak. Mr. Taylor had no nails or rubber plugs in his heels and had a terrible time. He is stout and predisposed to thirst. He said, "When I got to the top of that mountain I had a thirst—well it would have been worth 20 shillings to any landlord round about." Mr. Caisley lives in Newcastle. He rode to Penrith on his wheel Saturday between showers, it rained cats and dogs when he got to Penrith. But there he got the train to Newcastle. This he wrote to Miss Brooks. He said "Tell
Mr. Taylor the "the heavens opened but I caught the train at Penrith and was dry from there till I got home. Tell Mr. Taylor I was very dry." He added "please don’t remember me to the bigoted nonentity."
I got some decent paper in Glasgow as you see.
We are at a tidy boarding house, the only boarders in it with a breakfast room to ourselves. We also have a bath tub at disposal for which, praise be. We went to the Art Galleri"es" the first thing this morning. By the way, we took in the Museum at Keswick, in which was a collection of etchings from the South Kensington Museum, also a collection of English birds. (These are very prevalent, these collections.) I identified a bull finch and a ring "ouzel." I had seen both at Ambleside. And on the train I saw from the window, a pheasant and a grouse and three skylarks. Mr. Taylor got me at Ambleside 2 little books on local birds which I appreciate as much as anything I've been given. There was a picture in it of Guillemots a species of gull. Miss Brooks said "How do you pronounce those; g-u-i," etc. Mr. Taylor said "As lads we used to call them "gilly--mots”--I really suppose it's French."9
We beat it to the galleries We saw also at Keswick, Southey's gloves, clogs and some autograph verses, one about Lodore a waterfall near Ambleside, a lock of Wordsworth's hair, some photographs of music stones, stones you tap that give a sound in a scale, and some embroidery and photographs of Matthew Arnold. I had a very nice time Sunday night at Ambleside, sitting by the fire in the kitchen, Mr. Walmsley told me some anecdotes of Ruskin and read me some letters from Ruskin to Miss Susie Beever. The kitchen is very old fashioned and the fireplace a grate, with shelves on each side and oven arrangements for cooking and standing a tea kettle. We also saw at Keswick Greeta Hall where Southey lived and harbored Coleridge. Its a dismal place about the size of the Hays'es house and used for a girls' boarding school. We ran into Mrs Sprout and Miss (Lutern or something of the kind) 2 people we met on the steamer. They were in the car coming across town in Phila. 2 women in black with a tall young man (a goodly adjunct by his very easy solicitude.)
At last alit here we went to the Art Galleries.There we saw---!!! Rembrant, a soldier; Millais' sheep-fold and another, 3 Corots Velasquez: a gentleman, several Turners, a Durer, a moorish thing by Arthur Melville one of the best in the Gallery, Burne Jones' the Tower of Brass, some Romneys and Raeburns and Hobbemas and Titian's; and Whistler's Carlyle a magnificent thing and the Lord knows what in the way of Assyrian and Greek copies and the best Geological and Biological demonstrations I have ever seen in my life. "Marigold wartlets" and "pinaplets" and "eyelets". Bryn Mawr is a pimple to the whole thing. We saw a roc's egg!!
Oxford July 5
Oxford for fat rich olfactory impressions. I have never seen such a place. Its a Persian garden in terms of modern student life. Everything we have seen is a rush light in comparison (and a garbled metaphor) Its the savour of use on everything that makes it doubly impressive. I thought I was "rolling" a little in Warwick but I clean tumbled and had to be fetched when we got above 3 blocks from the railway station here. Warwick swarmed over by tourists and petty trades men though Kenilworth is a fine sight it is tramped down metaphorically speaking. Warwick castle and Warwick castle grounds are not like anything else. The grass is beautiful and the shrubs and cedar trees ancestral pagodas in themselves and the peacocks make your hair stand on end. One spread his tail and tottered about a little before us, every feather perfect and the green on his neck enough to make you faint. And the portraits and statuary and the collection of arms in the house are very fine. I shan't be satisfied now till we have
an armoury, (if we have to sack Abbotsford to fit it out). The Roman swords were the only ones Ive seen and the chain mail was particularly fine. We had splendid coaching from Warwick to Kenilworth and also to Stratford. The private estates are beautiful. The Lucy estate was an eye opened. Millions of bunnies, playing around holes in the roots of trees and deer, brown and red, the descendents of the ones the Shakespeares poached, and streams and 2 stone boars on the gate. It was all like a fairy tale. The whole place was I should say about the size of Carlisle and dotted with these fawns and deer. We got to Oxford Tuesday. We visited the colleges today, with a guide. Each college has its chapel and dining hall, quadrangle and garden and library; some have two quadrangles. In Pembroke we saw Dr. Johnson’s portrait by Reynolds in the masters and fellows commons and Dr. Johnson's teapot and (his desk in the library. The colleges buy buildings of one another and are in every way distinct. The gardens quadrangles are beyond description with shared grass ovals and wide yellow gravel paths around them. And all the windows with have windowboxes with flowers in them of uniform color. The gardens are young parks, entirely secluded with high walls around and gravel paths and old trees and banked shrubs. One (Trinity) has a walk of limes in it. Some of the quadrangles are entirely gravel with traces of bonfires in the centre, from celebrations of victories. The river is the nicest thing of all, a mere streamlet, but bordered by magnificent trees and a nicely kept path and there are swans on it one black fellow we noticed with a red beak and it is full of fish.10 The water is so clear you can see every movement of the fins and of the swans "webs," In the back park to Magdalen there were 30 or 40 fawns feeding. The boating seems tame but it is on the order of creeping on the water or nosing like a fish. You pole along but it is shady and the air felt cool today when the air in the town was roasting. We saw the Burne Jones tapestry, and Christ Church College dining room room. The portraits on the walls, the vaulted ceilings, and the trenchers on the serving tables, are indescribable. The Burne Jones tapestry was chiefly blue and red and all the workmanship of the finest imaginable. The reredos in
the Exeter Chapel is inlaid with gold or rather the mosaics are gilded and the whole thing is very rich and quiet, quieter in fact than most of the chapels.
We went to the Bodleian yesterday. It is small but choice, the atmosphere of rarity fairly stifles you. The librarian was very pompous and decrepit. He called to one of his underlings, (one of his 50) "Mister _____ will you pull down theese shade______or get someone to do it." He then mumbled out a few more directions. They have some manuscripts at the B. of Shelley's and Miltons, a lock of Shelley's hair and the Sophocles taken from his hand when he was drowned and so forth. They have an Alfred the Great Manuscript and part of the Iliad on Papyrus, an old Euclid, an illuminated book on Animals (in Latin); the page open was on about Salimanders agan a "kinds of lizards . . . . against whom the fire was not powerful to inflict injury." They have a book made bound in some silk of a waistcoat of Charles I and what not. The term is justly deserved.
In the portrait gallery they have a chair made from the wood of the Golden Hind in which Sir Francis Drake sailed round the world and some Elizabethan trenchers or roundels--dessert plates, wooden the size of a bread and butter plate with verses on them. I copied out a few which I will give you when we get home.11 The boys here are a very de luxe lot apparently. (And roll in hansoms.) Hansoms designate the doors of closing halls, as ants an anthill. I don't mean they take hansoms to and fro about the town, but going to the station. They ride wheels and horses and punt on the river and disport white flannels and loud ties and socks, wholesale. Such a combination of taste and seasickness I never have seen. Green socks with orange clocks, lavender socks and flannel coats with wide rainbow stripes of orange light blue and dark blue, but they look scholarly and their shoes and flannels are immaculate. They go in pairs spinning down a crowded street on bycicles carrying nets filled with tennis balls, (like a shopping bag filled with sponges.) I have maybe overdrawn this a little but its "what they look like." I think the "Oxford student" if able to afford the approved pace, will find life afterward, rocks, (I'll say this though, they are polite and
their accent is curious to the 30nth power plus. You ought to hear them.)
We waggle about so, feeding and seeing there is not time to comment let alone "write," but that you understand.
With love Weaz
Special. (Corr. to Egg) Oxford. Jul 5:____: It is a common sight to see Bunny engaged in exploitation of a fruit stall, supervising the buying lining of a basket of a with a cabbage leaf and the shaking in of strawberries and to see Mr. Fangs in deep study before a pastry shop.
London July 9
Having once seen London you will live in a blaze of glory all your life. It is acre of fungus on acre of fungus; on toad stool, on ant hill and repeated again. ’Buses thread the streets and wheel round each other and across each other and policemen punctuate the town like may beetles. The 'buses are 2-story affairs and most of them motor 'buses; being operated like motor cars keeping in a rough line, (placarded over with advertisements), though at liberty to pass each other if passengers accumulate and cause undue delay. We went out to Hampton Court yesterday and it took two hours. We took the British Museum tube for half an hour to Sheperd's Bush and then a tram-car. The place is chuck full of business but nothing is very speedy or in much of a whirl. London, that is; (not Hampton Court.) Hampton Court is a four ply palace in a garden of the French sort. There is a large vine in a hothouse there, 4 or 5 feet round the stem and covering a small trellis under a roof about the size of the parlor ceiling at home. It was full of grapes which were pruned and trained down through the trellis to hang to the best advantage. The palace has rooms on rooms, 27 or so full of pictures, some good and some bad. There are
wonderful tapestries and a series by Mantegna--the triumphs of Caesar a series of panels in distemper painted for an Italian and bought by Charles I. The palace is on the whole very bare and tawdry but the collection of arms in one room is the most appalling we have seen. Pistols arranged in a great whorl so I took it for a South African iglu flattened out. We got home about supper time and hung out our window, looking at the street after supper. All sorts of people pass. It might be Coney Island for the number of styles you see. Women in ball dresses and cockatoo hats and men in dress suits and cricket costumes and porters boys and servant maids and what not. We are in a very quiet part of the town, all 4 story residential hotels or boarding houses, with brass knockers and fancy parlors (plush and mirror effects) downstairs. We are in a block between 2 parks, greenery affairs, fenced in, and very near the British Museum.12
Bury St. is very near the British Museum. We got some fruit here on the way home from Hampton Court--fine fruit--the best we have had. It has on all the bags, I notice, "only canary bananas sold at this establishment." Also, "families waited on."
We had rather an offish time going to we went from Kelmscott from Oxford on Friday. It is 3 quarters of an hour by train from Oxford in a sweltering farm district. The flowers, weeds, birds, and so forth were beautiful and we heard a skylark (saw and heard) but it was a long walk to Kelmscott and then we only saw the garden. It was beautiful but the gardener hadn't been there in William Morris's time and were rather stung on the whole. Oxford is the "apple" so far.
This morning we went to St. Paul's as the Abbey is closed. I was very much disappointed, it is so gaudy and the congregation kept swishing about, in and out like swallows in a barn but it was what I knew it was going to be.
London is too immense to monkey with at all if you can't stay some time and I am glad we hurried ourselves in Scotland.
Bunny is looking over postcards snuffing admiringly, but she will probably write later. The Henley regatta is on, finished yesterday and I would have
given my snout wrinkles to have seen it but we didn't go. Harvard and Yale compete with Oxford and Cambridge on the 12th too but we may not go. In field sports, that is.
[July 11, 1911]
My appreciation bag is well nigh exhausted today we have seen so much. My poison bag is still potent. We took yesterday for Windsor. The castle is a fearful pile; very magnificent rooms go round in a square and overlook a broad walk and a terrace on one side Nearby is St. George's Chapel. It has a roof of fan vaulting, in stone, that is more beautiful than anything we have seen in the way of roofs (for houses) and the choir is beautiful. All the stalls are carved and have brass plates with the coats of arms of knights of the garter lining the wall at their backs so the place has a dull sparkle. A row of flags goes along each side of the choir over the stalls and that gives a rich effect you don't get in the churches and cathedrals round about. Near the palace are the stables. We saw all the carriages and horses that were not away and several dear little ponies. (Queen Victoria's 2 white ones) and 2 riding horses of the present Princess Mary’s. The stables are very extensive though not so large as the ones at Buckingham I think.
Today we went to the Imperial Institute to see the coronation robes and presents from the colonies to the king and queen. We then sauntered into Kensington Gardens and tried to get into Kensington Palace but it was closed today. Instead we took the New South Kensington Museum.13 It has 7 glorious cartoons by Raphael originals, a portrait of Browning by Legros and some pictures by Rossetti Burne Jones and Holman Hunt. The "Car of Love" by Rossetti here, and the big one at Liverpool (Sponsa di Libano) are the most paralyzing
things I have come across seen. We saw some Corots tog and Millets and Legro's landscapes and Rossetti's Daydreams; a copy of the Bayeux Tapestries and 5 original manuscripts of Dickens books, Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Old Curiosity Shop, "David" and so forth. We were fortunate enough to see an exhibit of Legros' etchings at a gallery on Bond Street day before yesterday. They are for sale and by James I should buy one if it were possible. Bond Street and Regent Street,--are a picnic--The windows are full of jewels, some of them; and some are hatters windows some sporting dealers' and so on. The diamonds and emeralds and sapphires give you locomotor ataxia. The street is very narrow and every other minute you jostle some John B in a high hat and Prince Albert, wearing spats and carrying a cane and talking broad English. High hats are epidemic. They are as universal as caps in Scotland or grass blades in a park. On the way home we stopped at Hyde Park Corner. I made a mistake and we had to change to a bus for Charing Cross. We stepped into the park for a moment to see the riding as Rotten Row begins at the Corner, The sight was truly amusing. Motors and carriages drive along the roadway inside the gates, and inside that ring there is a turf course on up and down which men women and children canter and show themselves before the spectators sitting on the green, (in chairs). Hyde Park runs along Picadilly and is separated by a drive from Kengsington Gardens, The extent is immense. You can walk all round but you feel as if you had walked around the Fairground 8 or 9 times.14
This is the most despicable ink in which it has been my misfortune to communicate and my pen is rather refractory but the facts are juicy so I disregard the impediment. You see more dogs here, (the fashionable kind that must be picked up and carried across thoroughfares) than anywhere else though I suppose they prevail in Paris.
We have no trouble getting around and the policemen are wonderful. They can tell you anything and stand around like young demigods holding up traffic. Generally two are stationed in crowded places and they fret not when the dray men curse and strain, under restraint.
There are big hotels and clubs and cafe's on
Picadilly (2-9 the Ritz) and one club in particular that made me open my eyes. I don’t believe there is anything in New York quite like it.
We haven't gone to the B. M. or the National Gallery yet so you see we are as yet a "quarter back." I am petrified with the glory of London but it has to be known to be appreciated, I am finding out as we attack each specialty. I don't know what you would think of it on first sight. But I know you would approve the life. We haven't been to the Zoo. We may not get there as it is some little distance away.
Royal Academy and Zoo (Weazel Touring Co. Ltd) today kept us busy. I received of a bus inspector yesterday, a plan of buses, routes, numbers and so forth so spend happy hours planning tours of minimum exertion for Bunny. London has my goat. We never see anything that I don't want to see 90 thousand other things of the same stripe, nymphs excepted. There is a great outbreak of them in the galleries.
We wandered round looking at sculpture and some few worthy daubs, then made for Vigo St.15 I bought a book and we took a horse bus for the Zoo. The Zoo is "very well off" for animals. Bunny thinks they have the largest snake she has ever seen. We saw the lions fed, and saw snakes being transferred from one cage to another, I made a few drawings, passim. The squeak squealling in the birdhouse was frightful but Bunny patiently helped me fish out two feathers from a parrot cage.
Yesterday morning we spent at Kensington Palace and in the gardens. I think Bunny enjoyed it. It is pretty hot though and we can't circulate with speed.
We are going to the Abbey tomorrow and Sunday I will see if I can spare me a little time to write.
Sunday July 16, 1911
We went to the Abbey yesterday and then to the houses of Parliament and from there to Whitehall. From Whitehall to Chelsea. Carlyle’s house is in Chelsea. We had a lovely time. The Abbey is dark and nearer my idea of a cathedral than anything we have seen. The stone is a timeworn elephant gray (you almost feel as if the piers should be pumiced) and the shafts of dusty light slant across as they do in the pictures. The whole place was draped and boxed off in blue velvet and brocade from the coronation and a false annex appended to the entrance lined with tapestry and decorated with arms. The seats of the nobility were marked with their names, the peers on one side and the peeressses on the other and the thrones of the king and queen were visible in the centre of the chancel. There was a large crowd and we were hurried on. St. George's chapel Henry VII's chapel was closed but we walked around and looked at the animals carved on the buttresses and Bunny besought of a Bobby, superintending work, if we couldn’t go in and he said no so we crossed to the Houses of Parliament. The Lobbies' and Kings Robing Room and corridors have all very high ceilings but they are not spacious. The House of Lords is a gorgeous affair. The benches are upholstered in red leather. There is a throne at one end and the wool sack down below like a huge pumpkin in red on the floor. Outside the house of lords were two rows of little stands with brass antlers (Hatracks) and each brass sprout had the owners name underneath on a card, the umbrellas of two Lords being suffered to occupy the same ring under their coats. (Nothing was in session of course.) The rows of seats were very steep and the aisle between exactly in the middle; a passage leading to the right through to the cloak room and lobby and general Hall which is midway between the two houses. We went out through St. Stephens Hall and or Westminster Hall a magnificent room with a vaulted ceiling where Charles I was sentenced and where Gladstone's and King Edward's bodies lay in state before they were buried.
Whitehall is a museum opposite the Horseguards who stand before the Admiralty. In the Banquet Hall they have all sorts of naval and military trophies, a model of Waterloo and one of Trafalgar, the skeleton of Marengo (Napoleon's white horse), 3 of his chairs one he sat in at St. Helena, his writing desk (a sort of dispatch-box, his razor and shaving brush marked with his initials, found in his carriage after Waterloo and his gun; they have weapons from every period hand grenades and blunderbusses and toy ivory ships carved by the French prisoners. Some of Nelsons clothes and the mizen mast and boom of the Victory. The warden showed us a peg from which an ornament (a diamond aigrette)16 was missing. He looked very significant and said Mrs. So and So (Lord Nelson's descendant who had left it lent it) had taken it out as she was attending court functions and so on. He said the Sultan of Turkey had presented it to Nelson; that it had "a vibratin’ plume and a revolvin' rosette of diamonds;" you could wind the rosette and it would revolve slowly for some time. "Charles" walked through the Banquetting hall and through a window now closed, to his execution as a brass plate explains.
Carlyle's house is a delight. The woman gave us all the time we wanted and lent us two guides to the house. There are letters and pictures of Carlyle and owned by him and some original furniture that gives you a very good idea of the house as it was when he lived in it. We saw the garden and the kitchen where he and Tennyson smoked. We walked down to his monument by the river and ate our luncheon on a bench near by. The River is beautiful from the "Parade" as Carlyle calls it and you could see boats swinging around the piers of the bridge and lowering their smoke stacks as they went under the iron bridge to the left. The Bridge is Battersea Bridge of Whistler fame of which he has a picture in the Tate Gallery. I don't know whether it is the picture about which the dispute arose. We took a walk along the stone wall towards the Bridge and then a bus to Victoria Station. From there we walked to the Tate Gallery. The Gallery is beautifully placed, also on the Thames. It is airy and very modern and not very interesting save for the Rossettis and Wattses. There is a picture of Burne Jones' King Cophetua and the
Beggar Maid (another of his big ones) that is a prize for any gallery; and a Rossetti of Mrs. Morris in a peacock blue dress and this picture of Whistler's besides some spectacular bronzes of Lord Leightons of athletes wrestling with pythons. There is also Sargeants picture of little girls in a garden hanging Japanese lanterns, but we did not finish. In all these galleries (with the exception of the Tate,) they have oons of miniatures and marbles and portraits of Louis XIV and Mile. Monpensier and Anne of Austria and Buckingham and personages of Dumas association. There was a fine portrait in the Dutch style of the Duke d'Alençon in the Wallace collection.
At Oxford in the Ashmolean there was a bronze of Lorenzo de Medici, very realistic and apunse. Bunny said, "He has snake eyes."
It was very amusing at the Zoo. After the lions had been fed and cleaned up their bones pretty thoroughly mice came out and scampered all round the cage, returning into their holes or under the benches, (square blocks of wood with a little space underneath) that were put for the lions to rest on.
After dinner last night we took a 'bus ride to Batterea (or rather Clapham Junction) crossing the Bridge and threading a way through the people and Costermongers that swarmed on the streets. The fashionable part around Picadilly is most interesting, with people going to the theatres, taxicabs whizzing about and stray highlanders and soldiers strolling along.
Mrs. Bell left me a Scribner's guide to London, which is invaluable in describing the juicy parts and giving briefly the historical setting.
[London, ca. 23 July 1911]
I have been looking at the map of Paris with a view to clearing a passage for Bunny from the railway station to our tent but Bunny looks on me as a child-grasshopper and says I make a great deal of my guidance
and puissant hopping.
We went to Church this afternoon to the Temple, (The old church of the Knights Templars that is) and heard some very fine singing. Goldsmith is buried in the churchyard and we looked at the inscription on his tomb after church. We walked all round the Temple yesterday, saw the Inner and Middle Temple dining Halls. In the Middle Hall Shakespeare played before Queen Elizabeth. We saw the famous gardens were the Red and White Roses were plucked and Fountain Court where Ruth Pinch in Martin Chuzzlewit used to meet John Westlock and watch the pigeons. We also went yesterday to the National Portrait Gallery adjoining the National Gallery. All the Watts collection of Morris and Swinburne and Rosetti and Meredith are there and a great many old portraits, and an autograph letter pretty nearly to go with every portrait.
Bunny and I went while in the region of the Temple yesterday to St. Clement Danes where Dr. Johnson went to church. We hadn't had anything to eat owing to the publicity of the little courts and passages and to the fact that the Temple gardens were closed. (We generally manage to compass a little park about noon and there produce from Bunny's satchel sandwiches, made before starting. ) Bunny said "lets sit down here and eat a little bite." So we got behind a pillar where the pews made a corner and began eating. A woman was washing the floor, back somewhere and a man was tuning the organ in the gallery but we were completely hid but some visitors came in and sat in the back pews so our eating was very precarious and the rustling paper conspicuous. And Bunny and I got to snickering for all we were worth, till I shook my head and took Bunny's remaining fragments and put them in the bag. We then went up to the gallery, to Dr. Johnsons pew and finished. (Great desecration.)
Today I had the pleasure of sitting beside a recumbent Knight Templar and in front of Sir Geoffry Mageville (1164) who carelessly turned one leg over the other as on a greensward. Most of them have their feet pressing down some diminutive little lion.
With love Weaz.
[July 30, 1911]
There was a fire last night as Bunny has told you and many flies gathered to see the "golden flies" inspect the house. It was very embarrassing to have the old gentleman whose curtain did away with itself, to have his mattress gone through as by Ruffina and to have his things displaced and fingered and shaken and held up to the light and the little parrot was silent for the space of five minutes but little feather pants recovered from, his paralysis and was squealling by the time the firemen were leaving.
We saw the British Museum yesterday (Section 35) it seemed to me, but we have finished it roughly. A few little things we missed but Bunny exaggerates when she says we skimmed through. We examined in detail "cages on cages" of deposits and teased out a few foreign inscriptions, French and Latin, and read the history of the important pieces on the little catalogue descriptions that are rested on them, and sat on many benches. I made a drawing of an Assyrian leopard with pig eyes (the eyes, understand, belonged to the leopard) and a very amusing smile, and we busied ourselves in many fruitful devices, I copied a battle from an Etruscan Vase, (Combat of Hector and Achilles,) a very sublime affair and a head of one of the Assyrian lions at the palace of Assur-Nasirpal, his snarl throwing his nose up into great snout wrinkles and furrows.
Toward noon we left the museum and got some butter and plums and lettuce, and went home to eat our luncheon as the museum is handy. I was feeding Bunny as best I might and rather deplored the great amount of lettuce we had left but Bunny misunderstood me and thought I was saving it. She said "eat all you want, It was only tupppence," in the most accustomed way imaginable. The Soane Museum at Lincolns Inn Fields was very interesting. The Alabaster coffin was there (of Seti I,) of which Miss Black spoke reverently and the Rakes Progress by Hogarth in six pictures. It is marvellous and the thing of his that I like best, that we have seen.
At "the Museum" the mummies are a very fine assortment, and there are grave servants enough to people the kingdom. They have mummied cats, reptiles, dogs, bulls jackals and humans, lots of faience (bead-ornaments) and fine examples of wrappings. Also many of the cases had portraits in them one beautiful one I thought, "O Artimidorus." A portrait of a man with a gold wreath. He looked like a Greek. They also have a fine chariot, Roman chariot and a set of harness (the head part) on a model of a horse, with the bit running upon up on his nose in the shape of a little horse.
We had plums today at dinner (plum tart) and then grapes. Bunny said, "Bunnies love grapes. Haven't you seen them under the vines even though they can’t climb?" I pointed out that they importuned the first busy passerby, to climb for them, or else they hung on the vine till their weight pulled it down, off the trellis, or else they knocked the grapes off with the a pole--the way the Etruscans got olives from the trees as we saw in the British Museum.
We got a set of Sterne when we were in Edinburgh and I began to read the Sentimental journey yesterday. It is rich. I have read few things to rival the pith. I left Tristram Shandy for the boat though I suppose it ought to come first.
[July 31, 1911]
("Myne owne good Weazel)" Bunny makes small 'tato eyes of my understanding but I don't know any other Uncle who would have directed his webs as tirelesly to the British Museum for purposes of instruction, as this one or who would have plied his steel nailfile as tirelessly to procure sardines from a tin last night. (To be sure he consumed the major part of the sardines but what of that.)
I am looking forward with great exhilaration to the prospect of Paris. Uncle will have to get a pannier
then, for toting Bunny to the Louvre and private galleries. I enclose a whiff of British Museum, "fried" doughnuts!
Bunny wants me to fill this out and is spoiled enough to mumble and snuffle when I say I've finished this "cat-load."17
We saw a fine collection of tanagras today, that we had overlooked and some fragments in the Ephesis room of Diana’s temple, beside the "Tower" which is not, as Ellinors book remarks very pertinently, "a" tower but several towers,
I am very fond of the Thames and have seen very little of it beside what we got at Battersea Bridge and what we saw of it and the Tower Bridge today. But we must be a wharf and water rat to do the place properly.
A-gane I have the honour to remain your obedient servant and brother
[Salisbury, August 6, 1911]
Bunny should be disuaded from going to churches rather than encouraged. She drops her little head back and studies the carvings without any pretence of following the service and during prayer if I pass my eye towards her she twinkles her eye and if I show the place with my finger Bunny mocks me and puts her fingers on mine and looks askance at the book--in a word waggles her finger at it--
We have a very nice house and the town is pleasing. We took a walk last night and Bunny saw a little thatched house with roses before which she sat with ears upright-I called it Bunny’s bower. We then turned down a lane toward the stream. Bunny saw a table spread in the garden and a little fox terrier running about and some people near apparently going to eat supper. Bunny looked at the table and walked near the fence, looking over the bushes though the little dog barked and ran to
and fro. Bunny talked to him and finally quieted him.
We left London in the morning and got our traps partly sent to Southampton. We have large red "Cabine"s pasted all over our traps for Havre, which sounds like business. We're going by night from Southampton to Havre and thence to Paris.) There is a large red dragon frescoe on the wall of this church as follows. Note the rhinocerous beak.18
Bunny wants to go to service! And we have to go early so Bunny can sit back and enjoy it without being handed to a conspicuous seat by the verger--and as the cathedral is some distance away and Bunny has to see every brassmongers and duckstall as we pass, we must be going. The cathedral at Winchester is beautiful—I like it and Canterbury best of any--
[Paris, August 13, 1911]
I have Bunny is a basket with a cloth over her to keep the heat off and I have a nest of lettuce in the basket. But Bunny rolls on it and frays the edges without eating very much.
Old Paris is a great place. The names and state of preservation of the place is beyond my highest expectations. (or are. I am all balled up). The language of the ville is amusing. A sweater is a chemise de sport. And the omnibuses belong to the (voiture Co. Generale). The town is full of oiseaus and poodles, some very mangy, dreary poodles with few patches and dusty ears and plain legs.
All along the Seine there are bookstalls and curio stalls. Little tin traps of boxes are set up on the wall and propped open during the day. The posters and paper covered books in the town, by-streets and so on are wonderful and the cafes. The cafes for the most part consist of wicker tables with round marble tops stood in rows 3 deep along the side walk and you can
get beer, soda water (not "sodas") ices and lemonade. We have more fun than a picnic talking French. The policemen are very polite and very voluable in their directions, but we manage to understand. Things to buy are more expenseive here than in London I am sorry to say, for I had rather hoped to pick up trivialities for nothing. But pictures are cheap. I got an 8 x 10 photograph of Rodin's Penseur for a franc (20 cents).
There are a great many birds in cages all over the town and small stores for with lead soldiers for sale and toys.
We went to the Luxembourg day before yesterday. They have the most beautiful sculpture and jewelry I have ever seen and the paintings are fine. I can't find the Hotel de Treville or Palais Cardinal not having sufficiently informed myself before arriving. But I intend to ask at the Odeon bookstore.18 A young snipper snapper from Washington told us the Odeon was the literary oracle or Paris.
I got a Dumas the evening after we arrived, 2 volumes (Le Chevalier de Mason Rouge) "tres excitant" the man told me. People are very kind when they see we don't know French and are explicit.
The Louvre is full of "rotten Rubens." I have never seen such atrocities. Mary de Medici's and Henry IV's floating in Elysian "deshabile" amidst cherubs and fat homeric porters. But if you could see the "antiquities," the Victory Samothrace and some Assyrian things they have. The Assyrian Gallery could put the British Museum in its pocket. We also trained our peg eyes on some Durers and some drawings in colored chalks.
The Knoxes were here when we arrived. Mary and Miss Louisa and a friend. To see their staid respectability in this rat hole was a marvel. We took a taxi from the Station (St. Lazare) and when we drove up to dingy cobbles and a running gutter and halting beggars down the street (a way) I gasped. But we got out went through the door into the courtyard and there was a bower full of birds in a cluster of vines and everything apparently tended and clean. A large "Pension en Famille" over the the door was reassuring. Inside, the table was set and looked very nice with thin glasses and napkins in checked covers. Mlle. Guillet appeared
and babbled at us a little. We understood moderately well but Mlle. Guillet fetched Mlle. Age who speaks English. We are now very casual with our phrases but my dear boy, it was an experience.
There is a very nice man here (of the type of Mr. Taylor whom we met in England). He said he had a phrase book which was very helpful and that he would let me see it. He said if you want to say something to the "garsong," in the morning, you can say, "Kommon tallay voo"? and it tells you the names and prices of things.
I was reading Bunny's letter to you and she said "Can you read it?" I said, "No. I'm in kindergarten but pretend I can read and sit with the paper und up-side-down under my paws, slobbering over it, and looking with wise pig eyes, but haven't learned my letters yet."
Napoleon's tomb was wonderful. I didn't like the red granite it was made of but the general impression was just what I had expected.
I am very much interested to hear of Ralph's engagement. There is a New Haven girl here. A girl and her mother. I don't know their names but they are very nice people the nicest in the place except the "garsong" gentleman.
Dear Bunny reads the guidebook (on Sunday) with the utmost sang froid and says "(I think we'll have to go up the Arc de Triomph--upstairs)." I wish I knew what to get for people.
I am most desperate. But I intend to make an exhaustive "hunt" tomorrow. Bunny spits so emphatically on everything except the million dollar baby rattle, and turkey down fans, I don't know what to do with her, unless I slip her leash over a picket in the fence and go without her.
There is a little tawny freckle-haired dog in the pension and 2 cats (an angora and a tiger). The tiger and the flea (Lily) are great friends. They are about of a size.
The American Express is the paradise of the city. They have a reading room upstairs and sterilized water in a large aquarium sort of jug, and maps (of London and Paris) to give away, luxurious chairs and a commanding view of the city and "English is spoken." (Oh
ma soul.) Ill climb on my galleon with no feeble star points.
This may be my last, if so though, it will be on account of the vigorous snouting among these eelgrasses. We have had Spotted Flank with us every evening (and day). The British Museum in London was our only respite. He could not go to the classical corridors and bibliographical collections. He enjoys the cafes and his straw. He is always ordering the garcon to bring him “une paille.”
Spotted “Flanque” has an “Englishman on the Continent: How to make yourself understood” and pretty work he makes of the language.
Paris [August] 18 1911
A fly and a flea prepare to flee. I carried Bunny around Paris today a pug-wrinkled Bunny-cub. The little creature made short legs over every blooming bargain sale and I only drug her to a lace store for Bunnies where baby caps and Bunny capes could be got, though the last was cheap and not procurable at home. I got myself innumerable things "tres bon Marche" as you can imagine and almost got a pair of shoes for hunting in the wilds that struck me as desirable. We went to a pottery exhibit near the Trocadero which opened our eyes considerably. Tiffany’s was simply an adjunct; so Paris is not such a mean place as we thought it.
Victor Hugo’s House is the most spine quaking museum. We went yesterday. There are sketches and portraits of Victor Hugo and caricatures by him. Innumerable pictures by him of Gavroche and a large portrait of Fantin by Carriere. Victor Hugo made a good many pieces of furniture in the rooms and had old carvings out together in to form sideboards and cabinets. The house is in the "Place des Voges" but he
died at another house in the Rue "Victor Hugo." At the Place des Voges there is a replica of his room at the Rue Victor Hugo which we saw. The walls were red, a sort of satin damask and a blue or sea green tapestry of some sort like carpet was on the ceiling. The attendant explained that Victor Hugo wanted no blank walls or plaster ceiling. You can imagine how we felt going round looking at the things.
I want to buy a "oiseau" before we go--a Japanese print--if I can draw Bunny from the gruel trough, as tomorrow we "flee."
(Grand Army of the
1"The Egg" is a boat-letter written by Warner in the form of a daily newspaper, one page of which was meant to be read each day at sea. "General Fangs" is one of MM’s nicknames, "Weaz.," a nickname which in these letters applies to both MM and Warner, stands for "Weasel."
2"Bunny Long Ears" is a nickname for Mrs. Moore.
3MM has written this page in two columns, as if it were a newspaper, leaving a blank space for a photograph at the top of one column.
4"Gator," short for alligator, a nickname for a Bryn Mawr student and for MM. Warner made a teasing reference to MM's support for women’s suffrage.
5The Conodoguinet Creek, actually a river, which runs through Carlisle, Pa.
6Willow Grove, an amusement park north of Philadelphia.
7Pennock's is a distinguished Philadelphia florist.
8Eunice Hintner, former pupil of Mrs. Moore at the Metzger Institute. The Bellvue Hotel is in downtown Philadelphia.
9For guillemots, see "Spenser's Ireland," line 53.
10This swan appears in "Critics and Connoisseurs."
11Two of these trenchers (now at the Ashmolean) are described in "Counseil to a Bachelor." (See MMN, 4 [Fall, 1980], 9-10.)
12The Moores stayed in London at 22 Upper Bedford Place, the street leading north out of Russell Square, near the British Museum.
13The South Kensington Museum collection is now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
14A reference to the Fairground in Carlisle, located within walking distance of the Moores’ house.
15Vigo Street: Elkin Mathew's Bookshop where MM purchased Ezra Pound's Personae and Exultations, both published by Mathews in 1909.
16 Diamond aigrette: see ‘"In the Museum at Whitehall,'" MMN, 2(Spring, 1978), 5-7.
17 In Moore family parlance, the postman was “ the cat,” hence “ cat-load” for mailbag.
18MM drew a gargoyle on the letter.
19Galleries de l’Odeon, a bookstore in the Rue l’Odeon; this precedes by four years the establishment by Adrienne Monnier of her famous shop in the same street, La Maison des Amis des Livres. While in Paris, MM stayed at Mlle. Guillet’s pension at 21 Rue Valette, the street
that leads out of the Place du Pantheon, close to the Jardin du Luxembourg.
A few weeks before her graduation from Bryn Mawr, MM sent home a list of books from which family and friends might choose gifts for the event (A. L. S. to MWM, 28 May 1909). Of these books, the ones starred remain in her library (editions are given in brackets); those marked with a dagger were checked on the original list by MM or her mother.
*† Johnson’s Lives of the Poets [London: Cassell, 1911].
†The Tragedies of Sophocles, R, C. Jebb, Macmillan.
*† Aristophanes. J. Hookham Frere. New York: Routledge.
[Comedies, Vol. I, London: George Bell, 1887]
†Euripides, Medea, etc. G. Murray, Oxford University Press Branch.
†Theocritus, Bion, Moschius. Macmillan.
Musical Dramas of R. Wagner. Dodd Mead & Co.
I. J. Paderewski. E. A. Brougham. John Lane Company.
*Swinburne Prose (and Poems). [Poems and Ballads. London: John Camden Hoffen, 1886, gift of Bryher, 1933.]
*Shelley's Letters. [Selected Letters. London: Keegan Paul Tranch, 1883; inscribed by MM November 15, 1914.]
Henry Irving. The Drama Addresses. Wm. Heineman, London.
Anatole France. Thais and L'Isle de Pengouins [MM wrote an unpublished review, "penguin Island," ca. 1914-1918].
*Poe. Rationale of Verse. [Works. New York: Redfield, 1856; inscribed by MM May 11, 1916.]
*Life of Blake (2 volumes). Alexander Gilchrist. [New York: John Lane, 1907. Inscribed by MM June, 1909.]
Balzac. Contes et Nouvelles.
Baudelaire. Petites Poems en Prose.
Meredith. Essay on Comedy.
Henry James. The Better Sort. *Roderick Hudson [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908]. The Golden Bowl.
Maupassant. Pierre et Jean.
Chopin. Mazurka No. 6, Opus 7, No. 2; Opus 33, No. 4; Prelude Opus 28, No. 3.
Dumas, The Three Musketeers [crossed out]. Twenty Years After; The Vicomte de Bragelonne.
Barrie. My Lady Nicotine; Tommy and Grizel [both are crossed out].
*Swift. [Her brother's copy of Prose Writings of Swift, arr. by Walter Lewin. New York: Walter Scott Publisher, n. d. ]
O. Wilde. Intentions.
SOME MYSTERIES OF MOORE-ISH GORGEOUSNESS
Two lines from a "ghostly meditation" by John Skelton open one of MM's most enigmatic poems. Skelton's verse, "Upon a Dead Man's Head," contemplates the grisly message of a skull "sent to him from an honourable gentlewoman for a token."1 MM’s poem "Sun" is both an answer to that 16th century couplet, "No man may him hide / From Death holloweyed," and the product of half a century of notable revisions. First completed in the summer of 1914 and published in 1916, these eighteen lines appeared in at least seven revised versions before MM chose them to conclude her last single volume, Tell Me, Tell Me in 1966.2
The alteration of the title form (omitting Observations' "Fear is Hope") from ""Sun!"" to ""Sun”” to ''Sun'" to ""Sun"" matches the gradual shortening of the epigraph and quieting of the exclamatory tone of the ending imperatives. The 1916 epigraph, "Hope and Fear--those internecine fighters--stop fighting and accost him," was abridged by 1966 to "Hope and Fear accost him" but retains its narrative, caption-like quality
and still points to the two poles affirmed in the poem, dark "Deth, holoweyed" and the splendid flames. MM adjusted the wording of the third line, "But for you, twin spirits, that shall not suffice" (1916), substantially five times, altering "for you" to "for us," dropping the "twin spirits," and changing "mortal truth" (1917) to "inexorable truth" (1957) to "inconvenient truth" (1961). The trouble she took with this line creates the impression that it was the rhetoric and abstract formulations, mostly in the first stanza, that she felt could be adjusted experimentally. The passages of vibrant visual imagery, on the other hand, the "fiery topaz" and hourglass "device / Of Moorish gorgeousness," remain virtually unchanged over the years, with the single exception of the much-altered first stanza in Observations, where the topaz and the prince are replaced by "An incandescence in the hand of an astrologer." The significant hiatus in publication of this poem between 1924 and 1957, its exclusion from Selected and Collected Poems, may be related to Moore's dissatisfaction with "Fear is Hope;" she abandonned that version after its one appearance, returning to the 1917 text as the basis for later ones. The last revision that she made in the poem's wording, a change appearing in 1966, is one of considerable significance: the poised tension of "Holiday / and day of wrath," ending the history of the poem with an implied victory of hope over fear.
While many of its elements were altered--punctuation calmed, wordings changed and compressed, margins moved from staggered to rounded leftward to indented right and then back to rounded left to avoid splitting longer lines--"Sun" remained recognizably the same in its stanzaic integrity, imagery, and argumentative intent. The irony is that its relatively unrevised passages contain some of the poem's most tantalizing mysteries. It may be that line 4, for instance, "You are not male or female, but a plan," is part of a larger Miltonic context, echoing Raphael's "lowly wise" passage, "other Suns perhaps / With their attendant Moons thou wilt descry / Communicating Male and Female Light" (Paradise Lost, VIII, 148-150). We know that Mrs. Moore read Paradise Lost aloud to her young daugh-
-ter. Was the poet perhaps especially impressed by Satan's apostrophe, "O thou that with surpassing Glory crown'd, / Look'st from thy sold Dominion like the God / Of this new World. . . to thee I call, ' . . . O Sun . . . So farewell Hope, and with Hope farewell Fear" (IV, 34-7, 108)? We know that the topaz, MM's November birthstone, is also the precious stone associated with the sun in Heraldry. According to Pliny the topaz was named for the island of Topazos in the Red Sea, an "Arab abode" from which it was first brought to Queen Berenice, mother of Ptolomy the Second.3 But it is not this Pharoah who "rode / Like you, Sun, forth when day began," who is the "great prince"? Is he Milton's Satan, who tried to "smother" the brightness of his Creator? If he were meant to be Christ the Son, why would MM call him an astrologer? What kind of "device" is the gorgeous hour-glass--is it derived from an emblem, a printer's device, an artifact? And does the epigraph, likewise, refer to an identifiable emblematic or allegorical scene?
During the summer of 1914 the Balkan conflict was spreading rapidly into a "Great War:" this poem appears to be a prayer for an end to those hostilities, for peace in "this meeting-place of surging enmity." As MM's earliest and latest collected war poem and probably her most often and minutely revised piece, "Sun" has stayed with us because it went so far beyond that early occasion with the fascination of its enigmatic images and the enduring power of its central symbol.
Bryn Mawr College
1The Complete Poems of John Skelton, ed. Philip Henderson (London, J. M. Dent, 1931), p. 17.
2The seven revised versions appears in Contemporary Verse, 1 ( January, 1916), 7: The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English, ed. Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 367; Observations, (New York: Dial, 1924), p. 15; The Mentor Book of Religious Verse, ed. Horace
Gregory and Marya Zaturenska (New York: New American Library, 1957) p. 31; A Marianne Moore Reader (New York: Viking, 1961), p. 88; The Arctic Ox (London: Faber, 1964), p. 47; and Tell Me, Tell Me (New York; Viking, 1966, p. 49.
3Pliny, Natural History, Book XXXVII, 107-9; in the translation of D, E. Eichholz (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1962), pp. 251-3.
"LOCKED DOORS": MARIANNE MOORE AND THE SEARCH FOR COMMUNITY
1917. Desparate for recognition of her unique talents, MM found herself-- as she put it in "Sojourn in the Whale”-- "Trying to open locked doors with a sword. . . .” She "heard men say: 'There is a feminine / Temperament in direct contrast to // Ours which makes her do these things. . . . Compelled by experience, she // Will turn back. . . .'"1 But she rebelled instinctively against any suggestion that she bring her writing into conformity with what others wanted, and she determined to follow Emerson's Transcendentalist: she would be "self-dependent."2 Quoting "The Transcendentalist" in "Roses Only," echoing "Hamatreya" in "My Apish Cousins," MM gave notice that her poems would not be owned, either by the present or the past.3 They would resist the grasping, "predatory hand" of the critic,4 and they would resist "'experience'" as well : they would "repel influences."5 But "Literature is a phase of life: if / one is afraid of it, the situation is irremediable. . . ."6 As these lines from "Picking and Choosing" suggest, by 1920 MM's resistance had begun to break down; she began to emerge from her partly elected isolation in search of her place within the literary community.
"Picking and Choosing" is conspicuously an attempt to fuse poetry and criticism, but the very conspicuousness of its critical judgments poses a problem. What purpose do they serve?
. . . It is not Hardy
the distinguished novelist and Hardy the poet,
but one man
"interpreting life through the medium of the
emotions.". . . .
The lines are written as if to answer some challenge; but their flatness becomes even more evident when we set them beside a more complex and sharply focused passage from "English Literature since 1914," an essay MM completed in the same month that "Picking and Choosing" appeared:
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. . . . [To] consider separately his prose and his verse is to lose his essential quality.7
Elsewhere, too, the poem is blurred and dull where the essay is sharp. The stringency of the latter's verdict on Shaw--that he "cannot in a straight forward, compelling manner, write a lovescene; instead--he takes refuge in a quibble or a prank which is intrinsically droll but. . . aesthetically irrelevant"8 --is missing from the poem's remark "that Shaw is self conscious in the field of sentiment but is otherwise re- / warding" (which the lines are not). And where the essay speaks enthusiastically of James's "awareness and. . . unwillingness to compromise, either in technique or in choice of subject,"9 the poem manages only the ambiguous pronouncement that "James is all that has been / said of him but is not profound. . . ."
MM revised these lines in 1924 to read that "James is all that has been / said of him, if feeling is profound,"10 but the change isn't much help. However, a crucial note at the back of Observations provides some clarification by referring us, for the provenance of "feeling," to T. S. Eliot's essay "In Memory" of Henry James, in the August, 1918, issue of The Little Review.11 Direct reference to immediate contemporaries is
very rare in MM's published notes; the force of this one extends beyond its immediate aim of assuring us that "feeling" is indeed "profound," to suggest the importance which by 1924 MM attached to Eliot's work in general, and perhaps to this essay in particular.
For here Eliot defines "influence" and "criticism" in ways MM "can use"12 as she tries to end the isolation imposed by her own previous decision to resist "’experience.'" "To be influenced by a writer," Eliot says, "is to have a chance inspiration from him; or to take what one wants. . . ."13 It is not just a matter of being "'Compelled by experience'": it is a critical act, an informed picking and choosing inseparable from the creative work itself. Thus James produces "criticism which is in a very high sense creative,"14 but not in what Eliot calls his "feeble" critical essays.15 It is in his fiction that James is what MM is becoming in "Picking and Choosing," a "critic who preys not upon ideas, but upon living beings."16 This is why MM names names--not randomly, but in order to acknowledge in print (as she had already done in a letter to Pound) some of the "influences bearing directly upon (her) work,"17 and, however clumsily, to make them bear as directly as possible.
Outwardly, "Picking and Choosing" has little in common with "People's Surroundings" (1922), which seems interested primarily in the relationships between people and the structures in which they live and work.18 But "People's Surroundings," too, coincides at certain points with MM's survey of "English Literature since 1914," and it is not only a better poem, it is also--if I am right in thinking that at least some of its people are poets surrounded, at once hidden and revealed, by their accumulated work--a more powerful and sustained work of criticism than either "Picking and Choosing" or "English Literature since 1914."
"There is in Ezra Pound," MM writes in her survey, "'a natural promptness,' an energy, an instinct for literature." Noting in his prose "the same momentum that there is in his poems and translations,"19 she indicates her approval; but the opening lines of "People's Surroundings" imply certain reservations:
. . .a deal table compact with the wall;
in this dried bone of arrangement,
one's "natural promptness" is compressed, not
one's style is not lost in such simplicity. . . .
What has been "crowded out" of these lines is the explicitness which in "Picking and Choosing" MM naively assumes will make criticism work poetically. The allusion to Pound is instead "compressed” in the image of a bare room and the retention of the quoted phrase, neither of which is associated in any obvious way with Pound--for MM is not particularly interested here in telling us specifically what she thinks of Pound or any of the other poets to whom she privately alludes. But those judgments are integral to the poem.
This first "stanza" looks like praise, a standard by which to judge the images that follow; and we must take it that way because no other standard becomes available until the last 13 lines of the poem--an ecstatic catalogue of "persons in their respective places," a vision of community derived from Raphael and, I think, from Whitman.20 But that acceptance becomes in the end the measure of our ignorance. We might have noticed, for one thing, the ironic lengthening-out of the line that seems to celebrate compression, and for another, the faint hint of death in "this dried bone of arrangement." Part of the phrase itself comes in a letter by Williams:
I cannot object to rhetoric, as you point out, but I must object to the academic associations with which rhetoric is hung and which vitiate all its significance making the piece of work to which it is applied a dried bone. . . . 21
Williams had always objected to Pound's academicism, and it seems MM agreed with him; but her agreement is partial at best, and her reasons are very much her own. "People's Surroundings" may have done away almost entirely with the overt rhetorical structures of end-rhyme and syllable-count, but it has not abandoned rhetoric. The poem conducts a complex argument about
the relationship between past and present. It is not that the present differs from the past, and is therefore worse--we're not talking about nostalgia here. Rather, the present is a "vast indestructible necropolis / of . . . separable units," a city of isolation and death which has no consciousness of the past at all; and that consciousness is life. Startlingly, the charge against Pound in the opening lines is that in his determined modernity he has "crowded out" the past.22 A spare setting may have its advantages, but it is only because "such simplicity" is achieved at the cost of life itself, "in this dried bone of arrangement," that "one's style is not lost"--and such a "style" is not worth keeping.
In its general form--though certainly not in its particulars--MM’s argument here has much in common with Eliot's position in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," but Eliot gets only a cursory glance in "People's Surroundings." On her way to "Bluebeard's tower above the coral reefs," the poet notes the presence of certain "cool sirs with the explicit sensory apparatus of common sense," who "can like trout, smell what is coming. . . ." MM has used the simile of the trout at least twice before (in prose), both times in reference to Eliot. In a review of The Sacred Wood published just over a year before "People's Surroundings" appeared, she had described Eliot as moving "troutlike" in his poetry "through a multiplicity of foreign objects"23--a slight reworking of a phrase from "English Literature since 1914," which notes "the facile troutlike passage of [Eliot's] mind through a multiplicity of foreign objects. . . ." The latter sentence is most revealing in its entirety; "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 [sic] Pecksniffiana."24 This was written before MM had read The Sacred Wood, which may account for the faintly pejorative suggestion, in the word "facile," that Eliot moves a little too easily among all those "foreign objects"--but that makes it even more interesting that in "People's Surroundings," a year after reading Eliot’s book, MM again passes him on the way to Stevens. For the poem's central encounter
takes place in the middle of the "'spic torrent'": Bluebeard's tower is in the Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean setting so often used by Stevens.25 The tower is the only place the poet actually enters, and she lingers for twenty lines--by far the longest sojourn in the poem.
"You'll be reading some French author, or Wallace Stevens," MM said in 1969, "and you'll be influenced, and for awhile you'll have a touch of that in what you write."26 She may well have been thinking of "People's Surroundings": the Bluebeard's tower sequence includes a quotation from the "French author" Anatole France, to whose story "Barbe-bleue" MM alludes with characteristic obliquity in taking from another of his works the phrase "'chessmen carved out of moonstones.'"27 And there is more than "a touch" of Stevens’ "hand" in such lines as "where there is not dust and life is like a lemonleaf"; the latter clause in particular, like "refute the clock" a few lines later, has to my ear an elusive but unmistakable Stevensian resonance. Indeed the whole passage is parodically reminiscent of "Sunday Morning," though here things "mingle" to intensify, not to "dissipate," the "air of sacrifice" through which "the acacia-like lady" moves to her doom.28
For this engagement with Stevens is disastrous. No sooner does "the acacia-like lady" become visible "at the touch" of Bluebeard's “hand" than she disappears "like an obedient chameleon," betrayed by her own mimetic instincts into accommodating herself too thoroughly to alien and hostile--and male--surroundings. (Bluebeard was a wife-murderer.) Immediately thereafter, the cool, sardonic voice which had governed the poem earlier on returns to explain what has happened:
here where the mind of this establishment has
come to the conclusion
that it would be impossible to revolve about
one's self too much,
sophistication has like an escalator, cut the
nerve of progress.
Reviewing The Sacred Wood in 1921, MM had praised Eliot for "opening a door upon the past and indicating
what is there";29 but there is no such door in Bluebeard's tower, and without it there is only an imprisoning and fatal solipsism. For Bluebeard too is immured. He is stronger that those who have disappeared into their surroundings--he has kept a hand free-- but he is nonetheless a "separable unit," and he cannot provide the ecstatic sense of communal labor which is so evident in the poem's closing lines.
MM never lost her affection for Stevens' work,30 but from this point on she turned increasingly to Eliot for "inspiration"-- and for more practical support as well. At MM's insistence, Eliot arranged the contents of her Selected Poems (1935) to suit his own view of her oeuvre, and argued powerfully for that view in an introductory essay which remains the most influential discussion of her work. Ironically, though, he represented her as a poet without ties to the past.31
The University of Texas at Austin
1"Sojourn in the Whale" first appeared in Others; An Anthology of the New Verse (1917), ed. Alfred Kreymborg (New York, 1917), p. 78.
2Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Transcendentalist," Complete Works (Boston, 1884), Vol. 1, p. 316. The phrase appears in MM's "Roses Only" in close proximity to another from the same essay, where "native superiority" gives "spiritual facts" priority over "material facts." "Roses only" appeared together with "Sojourn in the Whale" in Kreymborg's anthology, op. cit., pp. 80-81.
3See Lisa Steinman, "Moore, Emerson, and Kreymborg: The Use of Lists in 'The Monkeys,'" MMN IV, 1 (Spring, 1980), pp. 7-10. Steinman is more tentative in suggesting this "echo" than I see any need to be. "The Monkeys," originally "My Apish Cousins," also appeared in the Others anthology for 1917) op. cit., p. 76).
4"Roses Only." The rose's thorns protect the flower from "the predatory hand."
5Emerson, op. cit., p. 323.
6"Picking and Choosing," The Dial, LXVIII (April 1920), p. 421.
7This essay was first published in 1980, when it appeared in MMN, IV, 2(Fall, 1980), pp. 12-21. The quotation is on pp. 12-13.
8Ibid., p. 15. 9Ibid., p. 13
10Observations (New York, 1924), p. 55.
11Ibid., p. 97.
12This phrase is from the opening stanza of an early draft of "Picking and Choosing" in the Rosenbach Collection. MM complains of the paucity of usable material to be gleaned from her reading.
13T. S. Eliot, "In Memory," The Little Review V, 4 (August, 1918), p. 44,
14Ibid., p. 45. 15Ibid. 16Ibid.
17"Letter to Ezra Pound," in Marianne Moore; A Collection of Critical Essays, Ed. Charles Tomlinson (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1968), p. 17. The letter, dated 9 January 1919, lists James, Hardy, Blake, Gordon Craig, and the minor prophets as direct influences.
18"People’s Surroundings," The Dial, LXXII (June, 1922), pp. 588-90.
19"English Literature since 1914," p. 21.
20MM's notes (Observations, p. 100) specify Raphael's Horary Astrology. as the source; Whitman's influence is evident in the cataloguing technique that makes these lines a sort of antiguarian Song of Occupations.
21This letter, dated 23 March 1921, is quoted in a different context by Bonnie Costello, in Marianne Moore:
Imaginary Possessions (Cambridge, Mass., 1981), p. 161.
22On the whole MM approved of Pound, but even as early as 1915 she was unsure of his historical sense. An unpublished poem "To Ezra Pound" begins, "The rinning that you do is not so new / As it is admirable. . . ." See MMN III, 2(Fall, 1979), p. 5. The letter to Pound cited in note 17, above, sharply rejects Pound's suggestion that MM's work has its starting-point in his own, and it is in this context that MM offers her own list of "influences bearing directly upon my work."
23"The Sacred Wood," The Dial LXX (March 1921), p. 339. This review is, I think, of central importance to MM's work during the 1920's.
24"English Literature since 1914," p, 21.
25Observations, p. 100.
26"Conversation with Marianne Moore," ed. Grace Schulman, ORL XVI, 1-2 (1969), p. 163.
27Observations, p. 100. The phrase is from Anatole France's "Honeybee," and was entered in MM's reading notebook on 16 November 1920 (the day after her 33rd birthday). Rosenbach 1250/2, p. 153.
28Wallace Stevens, Complete Poems (New York, 1954), p. 66; "Sunday Morning” first appeared in 1915.
29"The Sacred Wood," p. 339.
30Cf. her brilliantly mimetic review of Harmonium: "Well Moused, Lion," The Dial LXXVI (January 1924), pp. 84-91.
31T. S. Eliot, "Introduction," in Marianne Moore, Selected Poems (New York and London, 1935): ". . . Miss Moore has no immediate poetic derivations. I cannot, therefore, fill up my pages with the usual account of influences and development" (p. ix). Of his editorial decisions Eliot said, ". . . I have . . .hardly done more than settle the order of the contents" (p. xvi) --
but that order was thematic, not chronological; and MM preserved it in Collected Poems (1951) and Complete Poems (1967).
"ARMOR"S UNDERMINING MODESTY"
Marie Borroff (at p. 130 of Language and the Poet) notes the playing off of "countenance" and "continence" in
A mirror-of-steel uninsistence should countenance
lines 41-42 of "Armor's Undermining Modesty" (1950). Borroff seems to regard "countenance" as a noun, a surprising lapse in a study elsewhere intensely concerned with verbal counts. However that may be, my purpose is only to call attention to a possible source of "countenance / continence." According to Lane's Concordance, MM used "continence" in no other poem and "countenance" (within an explicitly quoted phrase) in only one other poem, "Marriage" (1923). The March, 1944, issue of View contains a letter to the editor from MM in which she implies that she has been reading the magazine regularly. That letter is printed in the top left corner of page 23. In the lower right corner of page 22 is a 15-line poem, "The Mourning After Her," by Dudley Duncan, line 8 of which reads “So largo of countenance continence.“ This occurs in the midst of other word play on "large," "gross," "isle," "continent," "aisle" and the like. Perhaps MM would have glanced at a page of work by "new writers" and have taken passing note of a phrase encountered there. This is not, of course, to suggest that the lines including "countenance continence" are among those "in which the chief interest is borrowed."
University of Arizona
Marianne Moore; Imaginary Possessions, Bonnie Costello. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1981), 281 pp. , $18.50 hardbound.
In 1919 Marianne Moore wrote to Ezra Pound, saying anything "that is a stumbling block to my reader is a matter of regret to me."1 Nonetheless, as anyone who has tried to explain the appeal of a favorite Moore poem knows, the poems are difficult. The major strength of Bonnie Costello's book is that it provides intelligent and well informed readings of individual poems, many of which have hitherto escaped critical attention.
There is also a too brief chapter on MM's prose. While we may not be convinced that MM "will be recognized as one of the most . . . significant essayists of her time" (p. 214), we are granted insight into some puzzling material. In her essay "Humility, Concentration, and Gusto," for example, while discussing "impassioned explicitness," MM suddenly cites a letter from the Federal Reserve Board of New York (signed "Alfred M. Olsen, Cashier") on counterfeit bills. Costello devotes three pages to MM's use of this letter, reminding us of features common to MM's prose and poetry: her democratic inclusion of unpoetic material, for instance, and her "imaginary possession" of dispossessed language, which--like the peculiar creatures populating the poems--underlines the world's resistance to the constructions of art.
Indeed, Costello argues persuasively that a self-consciousness about the uneasy relationship between the human imagination and the world is central to MM's work. T. S. Eliot was ahead of his time in remarking that "Moore's relation to the soil is not a simple one."2 Costello adds weight to Eliot’s notion, tracing with care the rhetorical and structural devices used to emphasize a complicated view of art's relationship to the world.3 She draws on the Rosenbach materials to point out that MM's "objects" are most often not drawn from "primary experience" (p. 67). That is, the problem of what is real or genuine is present in the very
conception of the poems, which seem to describe solid things, and yet frequently construct their objects of attention, mixing and matching fragments from other poets , conversations, paintings, even postcards.
The "overestimated" (p. 29) nature of MM's references is not merely of narrow scholarly interest, but shows just how complex and elusive MM's definition of "this soil" is. Returning to the letter on counterfeit bills, Costello argues that we can see MM's self-consciousness about the problematic nature of the genuine. MM focuses on the cashier's detailed account of deviations--signs of "createdness" (p. 231)--marking the counterfeiter's art, which is contrasted with the "real" "real" bills--themselves produced en masse and authorized only by an impersonal board. Yet again, Alfred M. Olsen, Cashier, by an individual act of attention, imaginatively repossesses the real bills. Such reversals--the way our expectations are reversed, thwarted, and redefined, continually enact the tension at the heart of MM's work.
By pointing to such features, Costello outlines a theoretical framework within which to understand much of MM's earlier work. The theory emerges gradually as various poems and essays are read. This approach (and the organization of the material--some chapters on images or themes, some on form, one on MM's use of the visual arts) can be frustrating. But a picture does emerge: for MM, the "genuine must be figured to be known" (p. 29), and so constantly escapes its figures. Yet there is often a simultaneous delight in what is beyond reason (or art) and in the stability provided by the constructions the mind can make. Moreover, by constantly renewing the images and emblems with which it lives, the imagination can both pay tribute to the world's abundance and renew itself. The process of writing, then, can itself figure in the exhilaration--and ultimately the reassuring nature--of the mind's attempt and failure to colonize the world.
Costello also notes that, at times MM seems to want more than "the pleasures of merely circulating" (p. 95).4 Indeed, often MM seems more of a romantic, although Costello's comments on MM's ambivalent quest for a "modest form of sublimity" (p. 9) raise ques-
tions. Sometimes, Costello argues, we "are left with an awakened sense of something 'beyond' . . . representation. . . . [But] Moore's poetry holds out the possibility that this magical presence is really the presence of the text itself, as a construct of the imagination" (p. 137). Or: "Lingering in all Moore's poems is the possibility that [transcendent] truth is itself an illusion created out of the artist's superfluous desire" (p. 35). And elsewhere we are told: "Sublimity is connected with privacy" (p. 224). Does higher truth lurk silently behind language, figured only in desire and the inadequacy of language? Or is truth merely a phantom? How are we to take this problem? Is it that Moore is self consciously undecided on those questions? Also, surely the elusiveness of this truth is not to be identified with the elusiveness of the solider world that, we are told, also concerned MM. Are these separate problems, emphasized at different points in MM's career?5
In ways it is unfair to ask for clarification on these issues. What I have called the major strength of the book--its much needed treatment of whole poems--rules against more sustained theoretical discussions. Moreover, the picture of MM we do glean reinforces the necessity of treating individual poems in their entirely. As Costello says: "We understand Moore's poems best if we consider the movement of their composition" (p. 107). These are poems of motion, constantly keeping us and themselves off balance. Readings of the poems then must be, as they are here, performed. The problems enacted (not talked about) are not easily encapsulated. Thus, if questions are raised that we would like to have followed further, the questions serve to continue what we are told is MM's own attempt: "to keep the mind alert and free, the world large and abundant" (p. 14).
Imaginary Possessions opens stating its aim as being "to analyze [the poems'] hold on us" (p. 1). The magic of MM's poetry may, as Costello admits, finally elude certain types of possession. Yet here we do find as much insight as in any book yet written on MM, and we find the world of MM's writing opened and enlarged.
Lisa M. Steinman
1Cited in Marianne Moore: A Collection of Critical Essays, Charles Tomlinson, ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: prentice Hall, 1969), p. 17.
2The passage is found in T. S. Eliot's review in The Dial (LXXV [December, 1923], 594-597) reprinted in Tomlinson, p. 50.
3We are told: "While other modernists made the major claim of . . . closing the gap between human constructions and the order of nature, Moore admits the elusiveness of truth" (p. 18). This may be to oversimplify other modernists: one need only recall Williams' "The Sea-Elephant" or Stevens' "dumbfoundering abyss/ Between us and the object" (in "Saint John and the BackAche," The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), p. 437). Still, it is important to have noted that MM's lists and descriptions are not as straightforward as they seem.
4The reference is ultimately to Stevens' poem, "The Pleasures of Merely Circulating" (The Collected Poems, p. 149).
5Costello does indicate a development in MM's writing, although sometimes it is hard to keep clear her picture of the chronological changes. There is a convincing case made--in contrast to Laurence Stapleton's argument in Marianne Moore; The Poet's Advance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978)—that MM's poetry did not improve after Selected Poems.