Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NOVICES, by MARIANNE MOORE



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NOVICES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Anatomize their work
Last Line: "crashing itself out in one long hiss of spray."
Subject(s): Writing & Writers


anatomize their work
in the sense in which Will Honeycomb was jilted by a duchess,
the little assumptions of the scared ego confusing the issue
so that they do not know "whether it is the buyer or the seller who gives the
money"—
an abstruse idea plain to none but the artist,
the only seller who buys, and holds on to the money.
Because one expresses oneself and entitles it wisdom, one is not a fool. What an

idea!
"Dracontine cockatrices, perfect and poisonous from the beginning,"
they present themselves as a contrast to sea-serpented regions "unlit by the
half-lights of more conscious art."
Acquiring at thirty what at sixty they will be trying to forget,
blind to the right word, deaf to satire
which like "the smell of the cypress strengthens the nerves of the brain,"
averse from the antique
with "that tinge of sadness about it which a reflective mind always feels,
it is so little and so much"—
they write the sort of thing that would in their judgment interest a lady;
curious to know if we do not adore each letter of the alphabet that goes to make

a word of it—
according to the Act of Congress, the sworn statement of the treasurer and all
the rest of it—
the counterpart to what we are:
stupid man; men are strong and no one pays any attention:
stupid woman; women have charm and how annoying they can be.
Yes, "the authors are wonderful people, particularly those that write the most,"


the masters of all languages, the supertadpoles of expression.
Accustomed to the recurring phosphorescence of antiquity,
the "much noble vagueness and indefinite jargon" of Plato,
the lucid movements of the royal yacht upon the learned scenery of Egypt—
king, steward, and harper seated amidships while the jade and the rock crystal
course about in solution,
their suavity surmounts the surf—
the willowy wit, the transparent equation of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
Bored by "the detailless perspective of the sea," reiterative and naïve,
and its chaos of rocks—the stuffy remarks of the Hebrews—
the good and alive young men demonstrate the assertion
that it is not necessary to be associated with that which has bored one;
they have never made a statement which they found so easy to prove—
"split like a glass against a wall"
in this "precipitate of dazzling impressions,
the spontaneous unforced passion of the Hebrew language—
an abyss of verbs full of reverberations and tempestuous energy,"
in which action perpetuates action and angle is at variance with angle
till submerged by the general action;
obscured by "fathomless suggestions of color,"
by incessantly panting lines of green, white with concussion,
in this drama of water against rocks—this "ocean of hurrying consonants"
with its "great livid stains like long slabs of green marble,"
its "flashing lances of perpendicular lightning and "molten
fires swallowed up,"
"with foam on its barriers,"
"crashing itself out in one long hiss of spray."





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