Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HERO, by MARIANNE MOORE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE HERO, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Where there is personal liking we go
Subject(s): Heroism; Heroes; Heroines

Where there is personal liking we go.
weeds of beanstalk height,
snakes' hypodermic teeth, or
the wind brings the "scarebabe voice"
from the neglected yew set with
the semi-precious cat's eyes of the owl-
awake, asleep, "raised ears extended to fine points," and so
on-love won't grow.
We do not like some things, and the hero
doesn't; deviating head-stones
and uncertainty;
going where one does not wish
to go; suffering and not
saying so; standing and listening where something
is hiding. The hero shrinks
as what it is flies out on muffled wings, with twin yellow
eyes-to and fro-
with quavering water-whistle note, low,
high, in basso-falsetto chirps
until the skin creeps.
Jacob when a-dying, asked
Joseph: Who are these? and blessed
both sons, the younger most, vexing Joseph. And
Joseph was vexing to some.
Cincinnatus was; Regulus; and some of our fellow
men have been, although devout,
like Pilgrim having to go slow
to find his roll; tired but hopeful-
hope not being hope
until all ground for hope has
vanished; and lenient, looking
upon a fellow creature's error with the
feelings of a mother-a
woman or a cat. The decorous frock-coated Negro
by the grotto
answers the fearless sightseeing hobo
who asks the man she's with, what's this,
what's that, where's Martha
buried, "Gen-ral Washington
there; his lady, here"; speaking
as if in a play-not seeing her; with a
sense of human dignity
and reverence for mystery, standing like the shadow
of the willow.
Moses would not be grandson to Pharaoh.
It is not what I eat that is
my natural meat,
the hero says. He's not out
seeing a sight but the rock
crystal thing to see-the startling El Greco
brimming with inner light-that
Covets nothing that it has let go. This then you may know

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