Unreal Nature

February 3, 2017

Where the Gray Light Meets the Green Air

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:28 am

… “to write poetry which should be essentially poetry, with nothing poetic about it, poetry standing naked in its bare bones … “

This is from ‘The Archaically New’ (1935) found in The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore edited by Patricia C. Willis (1986):

… Some feminine poets of the present day seem to have grown horns and to like to be frightful and dainty by turns; but distorted propriety suggests effeteness. One would rather disguise than travesty emotion; give away a nice thing than sell it; dismember a garment of rich aesthetic construction than degrade it to the utilitarian offices of the boneyard.

… Some phrases in these pieces of Miss Bishop’s work are less live than others, but her methodically oblique, intent way of working is auspicious; one is made aware of the kind of refraction that is peculiar to works of art, that is in accordance with a good which is communicated not purveyed.

Next is from ‘Ideas of Order’ (1936) which is a review of Wallace Stevens’s book of that title:

… Poetry viewed morphologically is “a finikin thing of air,” “a few words tuned and tuned and tuned and tuned”; and “the function of the poet” is “sound to stuff the ear”; or — rather — it is “particles of order, a single majesty”; it is “our unfinished spirits realized more sharply in more furious selves.” Art is both “rage for order” and “rage against chaos.” It is a classifying, a botanizing, a voracity of contemplation. “The actual is a deft beneficence.”

This third is from ‘ “It Is Not Forbidden to Think” ‘ (1936):

… In “Usk,” Mr. Eliot depicts the via media of self-discipline:

Where the roads dip and where the roads rise
Seek only there
Where the gray light meets the green air
The hermit’s chapel, the pilgrim’s prayer.

One notices here the compacting of visible, invisible, indoors, and outdoors; and that in these later poems statement becomes simpler, the rhythm more complex.

Mr. Eliot has tried “to write poetry which should be essentially poetry, with nothing poetic about it, poetry standing naked in its bare bones, or … so transparent that in reading it we are intent on what the poem points at and not on the poetry.”

My most recent previous post from Moore’s book is here.

-Julie

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