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



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THE MONKEYS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Winked too much and were afraid of snakes. The zebras, supreme in
Last Line: "rye, flax, horses, platinum, timber, and fur."
Variant Title(s): My Apish Cousins
Subject(s): Animals


Winked too much and were afraid of snakes. The zebras, supreme in
their abnormality; the elephants with their fog-colored skin
and strictly practical appendages
were there, the small cats; and the parrakeet—
trivial and humdrum on examination, destroying
bark and portions of the food it could not eat.

I recall their magnificence, now not more magnificent
than it is dim. It is difficult to recall the ornament,
speech, and precise manner of what one might
call the minor acquaintances twenty
years back; but I shall not forget him—that Gilgamesh among
the hairy carnivora—that cat with the

wedge-shaped, slate-gray marks on its forelegs and the resolute tail,
astringently remarking: "They have imposed on us with their pale
half fledged protestations, trembling about
in inarticulate frenzy, saying
it is not for us to understand art; finding it
all so difficult, examining the thing

as if it were inconceivably arcanic, as symme-
trically frigid as if it had been carved out of chrysoprase
or marble—strict with tension, malignant
in its power over us and deeper
than the sea when it proffers flattery in exchange for hemp,
rye, flax, horses, platinum, timber, and fur."





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