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



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ENGLAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With its baby rivers and little towns, each with its abbey or its cathedral
Last Line: That it is not there? It has never been confined to one locality.
Subject(s): England; English


With its baby rivers and little towns, each with its abbey or its cathedral,
with voices—one voice perhaps, echoing through the transept—the
criterion of suitability and convenience: and Italy with its equal
shores—contriving an epicureanism from which the grossness has been

extracted: and Greece with its goats and its gourds, the nest of modified
illusions:
and France, the "chrysalis of the nocturnal butterfly" in
whose products, mystery of construction diverts one from what was originally
one's
object—substance at the core: and the East with its snails, its
emotional

shorthand and jade cockroaches, its rock crystal and its imperturbability,
all of museum quality: and America where there
is the little old ramshackle victoria in the south, where cigars are smoked on
the
street in the north; where there are no proof readers, no silkworms, no
digressions;

the wild man's land; grass-less, links-less, language-less country in which
letters are written
not in Spanish, not in Greek, not in Latin, not in shorthand
but in plain American which cats and dogs can read! The letter "a" in psalm and

calm when
pronounced with the sound of "a" in candle, is very noticeable but

why should continents of misapprehension have to be accounted for by the
fact? Does it follow that because there are poisonous toadstools
which resemble mushrooms, both are dangerous? In the case of mettlesomeness
which may be
mistaken for appetite, of heat which may appear to be haste, no con-

clusions may be drawn. To have misapprehended the matter, is to have confessed
that one has not looked far enough. The sublimated wisdom
of China, Egyptian discernment, the cataclysmic torrent of emotion compressed
in the verbs of the Hebrew language, the books of the man who is able

to say, "I envy nobody but him and him only, who catches more fish than
I do,"—the flower and fruit of all that noted superiority—should
one not have stumbled upon it in America, must one imagine
that it is not there? It has never been confined to one locality.





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