PERSPECTIVE: ‘To a Snail’ by Marianne Moore

If “compression is the first grace of style,”
you have it. Contractility is a virtue
as modesty is a virtue.
It is not the acquisition of any one thing
that is able to adorn,
or the incidental quality that occurs
as a concomitant of something well said,
that we value in style,
but the principle that is hid:
in the absence of feet, “a method of conclusions”;
“a knowledge of principles,”
in the curious phenomenon of your occipital horn.

By Marianne Moore (more…)

PERSPECTIVE: ‘Diligence Is to Magic as Progress Is to Flight’ by Marianne Moore

With an elephant to ride upon—”with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,”
   she shall outdistance calamity anywhere she goes.
Speed is not in her mind inseparable from carpets. Locomotion arose
   in the shape of an elephant; she clambered up and chose
to travel laboriously. So far as magic carpets are concerned, she knows
   that although the semblance of speed may attach to scarecrows
of aesthetic procedure, the substance of it is embodied in such of those
   tough-grained animals as have outstripped man’s whim to suppose
them ephemera, and I have earned that fruit of their ability to endure blows
   which dubs them prosaic necessities—not curios.

By Marianne Moore


He Was My Brother/A Cause

He was my brother
Five years older than I
He was my brother
Twenty-three years old the day he died

Pick out a number,
choose any one,
pick out a number;
any number’s too soon for that loaded gun.

Freedom writer
They cursed my brother to his face
“Go home, outsider
Mississippi’s gonna be your buryin’ place”

Take a stand
for the cause of your heart.
Dirt is dirt,
and any land’s the right place to start.

He was singin’ on his knees
An angry mob trailed along
They shot my brother dead
Because he hated what was wrong

Heaven is near’ to the ground,
Hell is closer to the heart.
Synchronize to the angel’s sound
and live a life and death the better part.

He was my brother
Tears can’t bring him back to me
He, he was my brother
And he died so his brothers could be free
He died so his brothers could be free

Pick out a number;
it didn’t matter before.
All that mattered
was the heartbeat and the just cause.


Why so desolate?

in phantasmagoria about fishes,

what disgusts you? Could

not all personal upheaval in

the name of freedom, be tabooed?

Is it Nineveh

and are you Jonah

in the sweltering east wind of your wishes?

I myself, have stood

there by the acquarium, looking

at the Statue of Liberty.

By Marianne Moore