Marianne Moore
Poetry (1921)

 

    I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.

 

        Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in

 

        It after all, a place for the genuine.

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            Hands that can grasp, eyes

 

            that can dilate, hair that can rise

 

                if it must, these things are important not because a

 

 

 

    high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are

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        useful. When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible,

 

        the same thing may be said for all of us, that we

 

          do not admire what

 

          we cannot understand: the bat,

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              holding on upside down or in quest of something to

 

 

 

  eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under

 

      a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base-

 

      ball fan, the statistician --

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          nor is it valid

 

              to discriminate against "business documents and

 

 

 

  school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction

 

      however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry,

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      nor till the poets among us can be

 

          "literalists of         

 

          the imagination" -- above

 

              insolence and triviality and can present

 

 

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  for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them," shall we have

 

      it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,

 

      the raw material of poetry in

 

          all its rawness and

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          that which is on the other hand

 

              genuine, you are interested in poetry.


1. fiddle: nonsense.

23. insolence: rudeness or disrespect.