Unreal Nature

February 10, 2017

There Are Medicines

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:41 am

… it is a fact as well as a mystery that weakness is power, that handicap is proficiency, that the scar is a credential, that indignation is no adversary for gratitude, or heroism for joy.

This is from ‘The Farm Show’ (1937) found in The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore edited by Patricia C. Willis (1986):

… Jersey heifers were being judged, shining strands like the hair of a Sieglinda that formed the lock at the end of the tail, striking the ankles of the animal at each step. The much waiting and deliberateness of the comparisons gave ample opportunity to notice the clamshell wrinkles about the eyes, line within line; the clipped-rabbit texture of the dewlaps seamed by longitudinal wrinkles, the hairs from opposing directions coming together in a ridge down the tail; the oiled hoofs and small devil-horn points on the forehead, polished to the texture of agate.

The following is from ‘Compactness Compacted’ (1941):

Women are not noted for terseness, but Louise Bogan’s art is compactness compacted. Emotion with her, as she has said of certain fiction, is “itself form, the kernel which builds outward form from inward intensity.” She uses a kind of forged rhetoric that nevertheless seems inevitable.

… And there is fire in the brazier — the thinker in the poet. “Fifteenth Farewell” says:

I erred, when I thought loneliness the wide
Scent of mown grass over forsaken fields,
Or any shadow isolation yields.
Loneliness was the heart within your side.

[ … ]

… What of the implications? For mortal rage and immortal injury, are there or are there not medicines? Job and Hamlet insisted that we dare not let ourselves be snared into hating-hatefulness; to do this would be to take our own lives. Harmed, let us say, through our generosity — if we consent to have pity on our illusions and others’ absence of illusion, to condone the fact that “no fine body ever can be meat and drink for anyone” — is it true that pain will exchange its role and become servant instead of master? Or is it merely a conveniently unexpunged superstition?

Those who have seemed to know most about eternity feel that this side of eternity is a small part of life. We are told, if we do wrong that grace may abound; it does not abound. We need not be told that life is never going to be free from trouble and that there are no substitutes for the dead; but it is a fact as well as a mystery that weakness is power, that handicap is proficiency, that the scar is a credential, that indignation is no adversary for gratitude, or heroism for joy. There are medicines.

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

-Julie

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