February 23, 2010
Marianne Moore: Piercing Glances
It comes to this: of whatever sort it is,
it must be "Lit with piercing glances into the life of things";
it must acknowledge the spiritual forces which have made it.
from the poem "When I Buy Pictures"
Those Various Scalpels
various sounds, consistently indistinct, like intermingled echoes
struck from thin glasses successively at random—
the inflection disguised: your hair, the tails of two
fighting-cocks head to head in stone—
like sculptured scimitars repeating the curve of your
ears in reverse order:
flowers of ice and snow
This poem is an example of "visceral poetry." If you read the novel Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolanos, in the opening pages the poet narrator joins the 'school of visceral poets.' He declares not to know what it means, but nevertheless, he's in. All poetry benefits from visceral details, physical details. This poem by Marianne Moore employs the sound sense, the visual, and the tactile. The word scalpel has a visceral image of cutting the flesh.
See more of the poem at