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

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BOWLS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: On the green / with lignum vitae balls and ivory markers
Last Line: In nothing so much as in a letter.
Subject(s): Language; Words; Vocabulary

On the green
with lignum vitae balls and ivory markers,
the pins planted in wild duck formation,
and quickly dispersed:
by this survival of ancient punctilio
in the manner of Chinese lacquer carving,
layer after layer exposed by certainty of touch and unhurried incision
so that only so much color shall be revealed as is necessary to the picture
I learn that we are precisians—
not citizens of Pompeii arrested in action
as a cross section of one's correspondence would seem to imply.
Renouncing a policy of boorish indifference
to everything that has been said since the days of Matilda,
I shall purchase an Etymological Dictionary of Modern English
that I may understand what is written
and like the ant and the spider
returning from time to time to headquarters,
shall answer the question
as to "why I like winter better than I like summer"
and acknowledge that it does not make me sick
to look modern playwrights and poets and novelists straight in the face—
that I feel just the same;
and I shall write to the publisher of the magazine
which will "appear the first day of the month
and disappear before one has had time to buy it
unless one takes proper precaution,"
and make an effort to please—
since he who gives quickly gives twice
in nothing so much as in a letter.

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