Perspective: “The Bricks are Fallen Down, We Will Build with Hewn Stones. The Sycamores are Cut Down, We Will Change to Cedars.” BY MARIANNE MOORE

By Marianne Moore
I’m a man who likes context. If asked a hypothetical question, I’m the asshole asking for clarification on the hypothetical. Marianne Moore’s poetry is filled with references, a linguistic puzzle of context.

However, sometimes context can distract. I read this poem’s title, and it reminded me of a documentary I saw years ago, a documentary about the war in Syria. The title reminded me of the wanton chaos caused, but the belief of a single father to rebuild for his two young children. He was unable to rid himself of war, but cast out fear because it had to be done. There was no grandiose speech, no deeper level of meaning; there was just a man in ruins trying to build a home for his kids, for a tomorrow. And I spent too much time trying to connect the context with what I felt.

There is context to the content of this poem, there are citations to the quotes; but I feel seeking these sources does a disservice to the point of this poem. Moore posits the question of ‘how does one overcome hopelessness?’ She doesn’t answer this question, yet she acknowledges it is done. And I think that’s the point; when everything else stops, we just keep going.

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