blacktitle.jpg (12329 bytes)

On "Silence"


Charles Altieri

That "nor was he insincere" marvelously fixes a prevailing tone defining the emotional burdens that demand a daughter's Modernist refusal of all of the old representational securities. Facing a father who so willfully manipulates the powers that language confers, the daughter's primary task is to appropriate those powers to her own mode of restraint, which must grapple with the task of fixing him and freeing herself. Such needs, however, also bring extreme risks. Should she either overestimate her power or underestimate the task, she is likely to trap herself in poses of hatred and obsessive resistance that only confirm his victory. Ironically. that is why the father's advice is so compelling. One in her situation must refrain from any self-staging—either as Elinor Wylie's self-pity or as Sylvia Plath's fantasies of revenge. Instead, virtuality becomes a vital weapon, and Modernist formal strategies establish a possible psychology. All of the care that attracts the unicorn or preserves traces of the basilisk here goes into investing herself in the father's sources of strength, without fixating on either his deeds or any single fantasy of her own projected response. This empathic distance becomes formidable power as she replaces melodramatic rhetoric with a withering precision, whose formulated phrases capture in the simple double negative of "nor was he insincere" the essential inhumanity of his reticence. Moore's speaker is by no means immune to the power of his control over language, but this "nor" superbly positions her attraction against the background of a deeper, unspeakable negative, which casts his self-control as bordering on the margin of a terrifying monstrosity. It is no wonder, then, that once the daughter's imagination is released by an extended simile, it dwells on the morbid scenario of the mouse in the cat's mouth, an objective correlative for life with father.

For Moore, however, and for her Selected Poems, that terror must not be allowed to prevail or to generate a counterviolence sustaining a similar self-absorption. The first thing necessary to resist his authority is to do him justice, by acknowledging the style and insight that make his idiosyncratic ways come to exemplify values that she seeks in her own poetry. But one must test what one has made from those beginnings by exploring both the poet's and the daughter's ability to transform the strengths of her internalized father figure into a precursor for her own sense of individual power. In order to understand, she must identify with him, by continuing to quote his characteristic utterances; but in order to conquer, she must be so supple in her identifications that she maintains her own difference, her own perpendicularity, without having to project it into the terms such fathers love to deconstruct. What better way to do that than to use her metamorphic abilities to appropriate the phrase most characteristic of her father's strengths and her fears, "Inns are not residences."

An emblem that she continues to hold in this strange mix of awe and fear becomes, through the testimony of this volume, also the expression that best characterizes her own capacity to make language a provisional and fluid mode of dwelling. There remains the risk that even this degree of accepting the father's formulation will make playing at differences only an evasion of remaining at heart the dutiful daughter. But for her poetry, that risk becomes part of the implicit background, part of the contrast that reminds us that thinking in such global categories either misses or denies precisely what gives Moore her claims to independence. Were one to avoid that risk, one would have to reject the entire culture shaped by such fathers. By quoting that authority, on the other hand, Moore can create a highly complex site where we observe language playing out a drama of affiliation and difference that is basic to life within a culture. Yes, her language then remains dependent on his. But that dependency is a beginning, not a final state. It resounds as an implicit contrastive context, testing her own ability to make language precise and fluid enough to appropriate what it echoes. As Pound would try to do, on a much more theatrical scale, Moore uses her mobile shifts simultaneously to confirm her banishment to a life of inns and to make that instability a residence in its own right—a home won by the power to control virtual identifications with such grace that they need never be tied to forms that invite either the mirror or the dump.

from Painterly Abstraction in Modernist American Poetry: The Contemporaneity of Modernism. Copyright 1989 by Cambridge UP.


 Elizabeth Gregory

I would like here to look at Moore's poem "Silence" as a remark on its own methods and on Moore's use of quotation as prosodic device in general. . . .

The poem presents itself as an exercise in the very restraint bordering on silence that the father recommends. This restraint is demonstrated on two levels, and the relation of the two informs the poem's meanings importantly as any reading of the words. At the first of these levels the speaker restrains her speech, repeating two sayings of "her father" and herself offering only the three lines "My father used to say," "Nor was he insincere in saying" and the concluding "Inns are not residences."

At the second level arrived at through reference to the notes, we learn that the poet also has restrained herself, giving place to the words of others in two instances. Thus, the quotation marks function not merely as signs of the difference between reported speeches and prefatory remarks. They note also the actual quieting of a poet, though the notes demonstrate that she has exercised some vocal power as well, altering the material she borrows and adding to it freely.

Though it is full of assertions, the poem does not tell us anything definite. We do not know, for instance, how to take the central lecture on restraint, since the dad's expansive chat works in opposition to the point of his talk. This opposition seems to mean to mock the father, but not, since the poem bases itself on his advice, in an entirely condemning or dismissive manner.

The uncertainty that arises here arises in all Moore's poems that involve quotation marks. In none of those poems can we assume that the speaker or the poet endorses the words set in quotes. Indeed we must assume that not only is there no way to resolve the question but that failure of resolution is part of the point.

The marks themselves participate in the ambiguity they help establish, by signaling things in addition to the fact that a word or phrase is borrowed. They can indicate dialog, suggest irony, indicate that the phrase they set off is not part of the speaker's normal diction, and mark off titles and mottoes. And all of these other uses come into play at some point or another in Moore's work. Moore's quotation marks function as elements of her poetry per se. Integral constituents of the objective texts, their multiple ways of meaning are engaged as might be the case with any word in any poem. Though in most instances Moore employs quotation marks around phrases that she did in fact borrow--and then, very often, substantially changed--her notes tell of many cases in which she borrowed a line and chose not to set it within marks. And phrases that are neither marked nor noted often prove borrowed as well. In spite of her disclaimer of any intention but acknowledgement in her "Note on the Notes," Moore's inclusion of both quotation marks and notes must be considered aesthetic choices. . . . .

To return now to "Silence," we can recognize in the father, whose words his daughter the "speaker" recites in the great part of the poem, a representative of the culture that has long taught its daughters to not speak. And we can recognize that the quotations in this poem stand in metonymically for the quotations that fill so much of Moore's other poetry. Through the interplay of method and discussion in "Silence," Moore's uses of the words of others in this poem and throughout her oeuvre are revealed at once as signs of her speech anxiety and as enablers, the means by which she overcomes the worst effects of that anxiety and, in the guise of not speaking, begins to speak.

The evidence of the notes also suggests this double attitude of simultaneous self-effacement and -assertion. On the one hand it is the notes that first make clear that the quotation marks in the poem indicate the borrowedness of the words they set off as well as that these words are offered as dialog, something we would have had no reason otherwise to suspect. On the other hand the variation between the original and Moore's version of it apparent on comparison of the two establishes her skill as maker and, indisputably, her authorship of the poem's poetry--that Moore and no earlier employer of her phrases has charge of all the poem's meaning.

Again, Moore's notes are not apart from but part of the poems they annotate. Hugh Kenner pointed out some time back that her notes have very little in common with the usual scholarly note and do not refer readers to earlier texts (Kenner 102). Moore uses the evidence of arting that her notes provide as a means of introducing herself as a character--the poet as character--into her own poems. In "Silence" this poet/character's restraint, demonstrated through her employment of words written or spoken first by others, comments, as I began to suggest at the start of this essay, on the restraint displayed by the poem's speaker in quoting her father. For the speaker/character, not to be confused with the Miss Homans of the note, gives a portrait of a woman stopped at the door of poetic expression--constrained by the old structures and able to do nothing more than repeat them in phrases not her own.

The poet/character who emerges through comparison of notes and text has made advances on the speaker/character's position. She can speak and does, with her own phrases, though she disguises them as those of others and though she bases them on an already existent structure (i.e., the structure of female silence) and on already existent phrases (i.e., the actual quotations that she cites in the notes). The new poem transforms both the old structure and the old phrases. In setting up the levels of text to speak in their relation, and not in their specific phrases, Moore makes further creative, transformative use of the silence traditionally assigned to women.

The poem's sustained concern with visiting does a turn on the poet's effort to break silence, requesting the silence of others in order that she may work. Visits and visitors that do not much trouble the host either with excessive need of direction or entertainment or with excessive length of stay appear at the opening and at the close. In expressing need of time alone and a place apart from others, Moore makes the point that Virginia Woolf later made in A Room of One's Own: though she have all the world's genius and the most fortunate of situations in relation to the tradition to which she responds, a poet with too many social obligations is no poet at all. The poem is not a rejection of visitors altogether, or a demand for total silence on the part of others. It is rather a request for some say in how one's time and space are apportioned, and for the right sometimes not to be available to others.

* * * *

Having offered the argument that the "father" of the poem stands in for the shapers of Western civilization in general, especially in their literary aspect, I would like to go on to suggest that Moore refers to some particular literary fathers as well.

The poem shouts Longfellow insistently at us in line 3, and he is in fact buried not far beneath its surface. Lines 11 and 12 echo and revise the final stanza of Longfellow's "Resignation": "We will be patient, and assuage the feeling/We may not wholly stay;/By silence sanctifying; not concealing,/The grief that must have way." Longfellow's poem gives advice on how to deal with the death of a young girl: he recommends accepting it without moan for the time being, in expectation of meeting her, full grown, in heaven. Though its terms differ slightly from the usual, "Resignation" does follow the basic quest pattern. The poet's beloved is lost and their reunion put off until the last possible moment. In the meantime, her loss gives him occasion for song. Although he claims to advise silence to the girl's mourners, himself most prominent among them, it is not they who fall silent (certainly the poem is evidence that he does not), but she--another sacrifice to art.

In responding to Longfellow, Moore begins with an echo of his sentiment: "By silence sanctifying; not concealing,/The grief that must have way" becomes "The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence." But in the line that follows, in language that does a turn on the structure of his own, she rejects Longfellow's point--"not in silence, but restraint"--thereby making room for her own poetry to develop, not as silence, but, as this poem demonstrates, as restraint. In a parodic turnabout, in Moore's poem Longfellow is dead, and his grave the object of a quest, though the poet is not the speaker. And the quest for his grave does not go on long, for visitors, albeit superior visitors, can find the grave without aid.

Her neat settling of accounts with Longfellow demonstrates that his memory did not trouble Moore terribly. Moore invokes him for the opportunity his heavy-handed blows give her to display her skill in parrying. The phrases of another father figure, whose memory poses more, and more unsettling, problems, echo here also, however. The arguments for female silence of Emerson, father of American letters, give Moore more difficulty and she pays them greater respect. The easily dealt with Longfellow is present in the poem as a cover for the poem's struggle with Longfellow's friend and contemporary, the much more challenging Emerson.

All Americans since Emerson have been essentially informed in some measure by his doctrine. Emerson's image of the self-reliant man who is able to "enjoy an original relation to the universe" (1960, 21) strikes such a resonant chord in American breasts because it responds to the deep anxiety over secondary status that permeates American culture, isolated offspring of the culture of the old world. Out of need to deny dependence on what went before, Emersonian men (and, in a more complicated maneuver, Emersonian women as well) construct fictions of their independence and originality, which allow them to go forward with a new sense of their importance in the universal scheme. Their self-confidence frees them to act purposively and without hesitation.

This model has immense attractions for Moore. As a woman poet in search of new modes, as a Modern poet, and as an American, Moore shares Emerson's obsession with originality. His doctrine of self-reliance makes possible her doctrine of self-conquering, which responds to and revises his. But the clear case of influence anxiety implicit in such revision is made even more problematic for Moore by the tendency of Emerson's model to obscure all notion of dependency in the process of establishing the idea of a self independent of earlier source. Emerson's model in a world made of human relations, rather than honoring others goes far toward denying that others exist at all though this denial lessens the actual dependency of the "self-reliant" man on others not one whit and probably increases it. Like the quest, the transcendent Emersonian self depends on the silence of those who make it possible. The self as Emerson defines it is a general model for suppression of otherness, of which the quest relation of male poet/female object of description is a particular case.

Emerson is not entirely ignorant of the dependence implicit in his models. In spite of his best efforts, a covert awareness of this "self" deception haunts his work, expressing itself through troubled tropes and through the very frequency with which Emerson denies it. In "Silence," Moore begins her critique of Emerson and the Emersonian elements of her own work by putting pressure on some of these tropes.

We can recognize a response to Emerson in the first few fines of the poem in the concerns with both superior people and self-reliance. The definition and value of these ideas come into question here and contribute to the poem's general mood of uncertainty. The atmosphere of doubt introduced by the quotation marks--whose ideas are these, and how should we view them?--builds progressively, with the poem. Even as the reader recognizes the possibility that the quotation marks may mean to mock the father's speech, other elements of the poem also prove unstable. The validity of the claim to superiority comes fast into question. Do truly superior people go about expounding rules for superiority, after all? And to whom, exactly, are they superior?

The at-first-apparently-ordinary simile for self-reliance self-destructs when you notice that the cat's "self"-reliance depends on the sustenance he will take from the mouse he will soon devour. Moore's image redoes Emerson's famous "puss with her tail" simile near the end of his essay "Experience." Emerson, arguing that we all make our own worlds and that what we perceive is not independent of us but shaped by our seeing, offers a kitten as example:

As I am, so I see; use what language we will, we can never say anything but what we are.... Do you see that kitten chasing so prettily her own tail? If you could look with her eyes you might see her surrounded with hundreds of figures performing complex dramas, with tragic and comic issues, long conversations, many characters, many ups and downs of fate,--and meantime it is only puss and her tail. How long before our masquerade will end its noise of tambourines, laughter and shouting, and we shall find it was a solitary performance? A subject and an object--it takes so much to make the galvanic circuit complete, but magnitude adds nothing. What imports it whether it is Kepler and the sphere, Columbus and America, a reader and his book, or puss with her tail?

In pointing out that "use what language we will, we can never say anything but what we are," Emerson, as Moore will after him, tells us that language silences what it describes; but he presents the notion in a way that realizes his point. For he manages here to speak of silencing what he describes while barely acknowledging the existence of what gets silenced. "As I am, so I see" does not note the existence of, let alone inquire into the effect on, the "object" onto which this "subject" projects its image.

Of course Emerson does use the word object, but the principal metaphor he takes to express the object's status avoids the issue by confusing things. His choice of part of the cat's own body as the object of her pursuit/interpreta-tion blurs the distinction between subject and object. We do not immediately perceive that puss and her tail are not one, and so do not recognize the tail as object. The phrase "solitary performance" heightens the confusion. It seems most sensibly to distinguish between the cat's fantasy of a drama involving hundreds of others besides herself and the fact that she plays her game with herself alone. In fact, in a rather alienated image, it distinguishes between the cat and her tail, telling us that the tail has no part in the game as far as the cat is concerned. But the oddness of the image makes it hard to register thus.

Emerson obscures the aggressive nature of interpretation as well in representing the cat's fantasy so sweetly. Harmless though it may be in itself, the kitten's pursuit is not merely a good time; it prepares her for hunts to come.

Even without reference to "Experience," the apposition of "self-reliant" and the cat and mouse image in Moore's poem strikes the ear dissonantly. The example undermines the statement. With "Experience" in mind, we can recognize in Moore's image a corrective response to the wisdom of the father of American letters; we might call it a subversive clarification of his cat and mouse game. By revising the cat's tail into a mouse's tail and changing the game into a murderous hunt, Moore makes explicit what Emerson's simile would conceal: the predatory nature of interpretation and the unpleasant fact that the terms of existence forbid anyone's relying on herself or himself solely; that life as we know it requires victims.

Just as her notion of self depends on Emerson's while it takes exception to it, so Moore's use of quotation imitates Emerson even as it provides her with means of overcoming his demands that, she be mute. Like Moore, Emerson quotes extensively. At the start of his essay "Quotation and Originality" he remarks on the world's scarcity of original ideas and the consequent inevitability of quotation:

Our debt to tradition through reading and conversation is so massive, our protest or private addition so rare and insignificant,--and this commonly on the ground of other reading or hearing,--that, in a large sense, one would say there is no pure originality. All minds quote.... By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. (1889,170)

He goes on to note that all our habits of living quote the habits of our ancestors:

Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds; our language, our science, our religion, our opinion, our fancies we inherited. Our country, customs, laws, our ambitions, and our notions of fit and fair,--all these we never made, we found them ready-made; we but quote them. (1889,190)

His own quotations are not of this democratic sort, however. Emerson quotes for power. In quoting he means to borrow the authority of famous men along with their words. The first of the many quotations with which Emerson studs this essay comments on this very intention:

"He that borrows the aid of an equal understanding," said Burke, "doubles his own; he that uses that of a superior elevates his own to the stature of that he contemplates." (1889, 170)

Emerson's witty setting of this quotation so that it compliments his enterprise even as it feeds his argument prefigures the sly multiple uses Moore makes of the quotations she weaves into poetry.

Having acknowledged the importance of the past, Emerson then goes on to recuperate the argument for independence and to assert the reconstitutive powers of individual genius:

But there remains the indefeasible persistency of the individual to be himself.… He must draw the elements into him for food, and, if they be granite and silex, will prefer them cooked by sun and rain, by time and art, to his hand. But, however received, these elements pass into the substance of his constitution, will be assimilated, and tend always to form, not a partisan, but a possessor of truth. To all that can be said of the preponderance of the Past, the single word Genius is a sufficient reply. The divine resides in the new. The divine never quotes, but tis, and creates. (1889, 191)

Moore's habits of quotation build on Emerson's, but where Emerson emphasizes borrowings for power and the assertion of individuality through transformation of the material quoted, Moore stresses the interconnectedness of all elements of our culture. Quoting to emphasize her dependence as poet on the world around her, Moore cites borrowings from newspapers, conversations and books of the sort we generally consider "secondary material"--sources that are not considered valuable literature, that we would not recognize if she did not document their borrowing in her notes, and that do not impart authority to her work. Most of this material she has substantially altered in the process of incorporating it, so there is often small similarity between her line and the line she cites as source, and therefore no need to direct attention to her indebtedness. But time and again she makes a point of highlighting that debt.

In spite of these efforts, Moore's method does not cease to be original. If Emerson precedes her in quoting widely, she quotes a very different sort of text, and in poetry, where the device is not much used. Moore continues an Emersonian then, though with important differences. The unresolved nature of her relation to Emerson gives rise to her inability to deal with him directly or to name him in her poem. But he is present in both the direct references to famous men she does make. Where Longfellow enters the poem as Emerson's follower, Burke enters as his model--the one to whose height Emerson claims, obliquely, to aspire in "Quotation and Originality."

In quoting Burke at the close of "Silence" (actually Moore quotes Prior who quotes Burke), Moore plays on Emerson’s playful use of his quote from Burke at the start of his essay. Her quotation alludes to Emerson's quotation, and, again, we are treated to a sophisticated display of skill at making silence speak. In making punning use of a quotation from Burke, Moore "quotes" Emerson, and thus, like Emerson, she too makes claims to the stature of her model. Her concluding line, which interprets and revises the precise meaning of the line from Burke in the process of explaining it (his line is much more hospitable than hers), can thus be read as a revisionary response to Emerson, whose method she adopts, with altered emphasis.

In a wider sense, the revisionary reading in the final lines suggests the situation of the woman poet, working to redefine the tradition that inspired her to poetry. The evidence of reworking given in the final lines supports the understanding that the poet transforms the father's legacy even as she embodies it. And she saves for herself the final word.

Excerpted from "’Silence’ and ‘Restraint,’" a longer essay in Marianne Moore: Woman and Poet. Ed. Patricia C. Willis. Copyright 1990 by the National Poetry Foundation, Inc. Please consult the original book for footnotes to this essay. Reprinted with permission.


Cristanne Miller

Moore's poem "Silence" reveals most clearly the politics of form that may inhere in quoting, and speech-act theory provides perhaps the clearest description of its functions, for while the words Moore quotes may be identical to those previously used, the speech-act is inevitably different. To repeat J. G. A. Pocock's dictum, words constitute not just actions but "acts of power toward persons." In a poem consisting, except for two and a half lines, entirely of quotation and depicting the relationship between a daughter and a father, it is particularly crucial to understand how speech-acts are performed on others, and where negotiations of power enter into the performance(s).

[. . .]

This poem has long been read as a sincere appreciation of a father's dictum that "superior people" may be known by their independence and "restraint"--and in her Notes Moore reports that the appreciation is a daughter's (Miss A. M. Homans). Recently, however, various critics have read the poem differently. Jeanne Heuving argues that the daughter quotes her father's words ironically to show both his dominating will-to-power and her subversion of it: "Inns are not residences," the poem ends--which is to say, that even if a literal, or a poetic, daughter rests within the house of a father, she does not and perhaps cannot spiritually or practically "live" there. Slatin sees the daughter using silence with what Moore in "Marriage" calls "criminal ingenuity," to circumvent the father's authority and appropriate it to herself as restrained speaker. Charles Altieri observes that "Silence" concludes Moore's Selected Poems and hence suggests "that everything in the book contributes to, and is modified by, this dialectical assertion of her female strength. This assertion, in turn, depends on a controlled manipulation of the very "restraint" that the father assumes epitomizes his word and that the daughter acknowledges as exemplifying her very different values. "Should [the daughter] either overestimate her power or underestimate the task [of fixing her father and freeing herself], she is likely to trap herself in poses of hatred and obsessive resistance that only confirm his victory . . . One in her situation must refrain from any self-staging."

A return to speech-act theory strengthens such readings. By structuring the poem as representing a two-way process of communication, Moore reveals and establishes her moral insistence on the possibility of response: anyone can talk back, as it were, and the most responsible rhetorical and poetic stance is to abet that possibility. By emphasizing the imperfect character of her verse--those characteristics that distinguish it from traditional poetry, or the perfect(ed) literary icon--Moore seems to encourage readerly intervention or response, and hence a structure of freedom. Again, as J. G. A. Pocock suggests, because we do not initiate and cannot monopolize the language we use, we neither fully control its power nor prevent others from sharing it: "In performing a verbalized act of power, I enter upon a polity of shared power"--even if that power is shared unequally, and against the will of the institutionally more empowered speaker.

Using this vocabulary, one could say that "Silence" quotes a father performing an act of power upon his daughter, in a way that presupposes her silent, or restrained, obedience. The daughter responds however by repeating this father's words at length, in a new performative act that undermines, if it does not transform, the power structure assumed. She changes the father's pronouncement--which apparently was intended to prevent the freedom of a two-way process of communication--into an opportunity for response. Moreover, her statement implies that now be is the one incapable of response: one of the few nonquoted lines reads, "my father used to say"--suggesting that he can no longer repeat this behavior (emphasis mine). She manipulates the father's words so as to structure a "polity of shared power" rather than a relationship of "power over."

That she does not simply reverse the situation so that she now assumes "power over" the father is revealed, as Altieri implies, by the fact that her response does not voice simple resistance: she accepts the father's words and his concept of restraint. What she rejects is his elitist and controlling uses of language which assume that behavioral "superiority" and all other power relationships are stable--hence that response can be prevented. And by rejecting his concept of language even while using every one of his words, she suggests that response to her own speech-act is welcome. The poem offers a concise paradigm for feminist analysis of any daughters relationship to patriarchal or phallic language.

More to the point of my discussion of quotation, however, is the poet Moore's use of the daughter's quotation of the father--which again constitutes a separate speech-act and performance of power from either the father's or the daughter's. By structuring this poem as a monologue, without dramatic context, Moore implies that it addresses a general audience. And in this context, the poem's text at first seems to function analogously to the father's words: as an unexplained directive to the reader about how "superior people" act, or read poems. The politics of the daughters speech-act within the poem and of Moore's poetry, generally, however, suggest a more complex relationship. Again language theory may be useful. In The Poem as Utterance, R. A. York hypothesizes that a poem may "reverse[ ] the usual polarity of language, in which presupposition ... act[s] as an inconspicuous background for a dynamic speech act" by instead making the reader work to understand not just the content of its words but the conditions of the utterance, the presuppositions, that make them appropriate. In "Silence," Moore indeed leaves the conditions for both the fictionalized utterance (the daughter's to the father) and the poetic utterance (hers to the reader) a matter of interpretation--that is, she constructs the poem as a speech-act that functions as the opposite of a command.

Pocock refers to the inherent uncontrollability of language. Annotated quotation provides a stunning instance of Moore's more radical because chosen relinquishment of the claim to original control of her words: here, the poet doubly documents (through quotation marks and through notes) that she borrows from others. Moore, in such a reading, functions simultaneously as father and daughter--as she perhaps does in all her quoting. As poet, she is structurally the father--even as woman--and therefore, as I have argued, resorts to a variety of formal strategies and themes to undermine that structure of (patriarchal) authorial authority. Through that undermining, she is also structurally the daughter, debunking the notions that any text is "superior" to others (using quotation to place overheard speech on the same level as literature) and that any speech-act unilaterally prevents the possibility of response or alternative political structuring--including her later revisions of her own words. As daughter, the poet marks the uncontrollability of language that has allowed her own response. As discussed earlier, Moore indeed prefers the unlovely, the not fully controlled--the "mere childish attempt to make an imperfectly bal- / lasted animal stand up"; she has a "very special fondness for writing that is obscure, that does not quite succeed." Such imperfection--born of "ardor, of diligence, and of refusing to be false"--gives freedom of both expression and response.

From Marianne Moore: Questions of Authority. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995. Copyright 1995 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.


Longfellow's Grave

b. February 27, 1807. d. March 24, 1882.
Poet. He was perhaps best known for his "Hiawatha."
Mount Auburn Cemetary, Cambridge, Mass., USA

longfellowh.jpg (30819 bytes)

longfellowhenry2.jpg (26984 bytes)


The Glass Flowers at Harvard

yucca.jpg (8312 bytes)
Yucca

cone.jpg (9222 bytes)
coneflower
bouquet.gif (25298 bytes)
a bouquet

The Glass Flowers are a unique collection of over 3,000 models of plants painstakingly and accurately crafted in glass by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, father and son. The project spanned five decades from 1886 to 1936. The parts were shaped after the glass was softened by heat. Some models were blown. Colored glass was used for many, others were "cold painted" with a thin wash of colored ground glass or metal oxide(s) and heated until the material fused to the model.  The Blaschkas' studi  was located in Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany.


Return to Marianne Moore