Thursday, July 14, 2011


A happy Thursday to you!  As regular readers know, things are in more than a bit of upheaval at Robert Frost’s Banjo central, especially during the month of July.  Despite this, I’m trying to keep the blog itself going mostly without interruption, & it does appear that this will remain true throughout the month.

However, since I’m a bit displaced these days, I’ve found it difficult either to arrange for writer interviews or to do book reviews for Writers Talk.  So I’m resurrecting an old Robert Frost’s Banjo tradition: the Poem of the Week.  Each Thursday at least into early August I’ll be posting a poem that’s in my head at that particular time.

This week, as soon as I thought about the return of Poem of the Week, the wonderful opening of Marianne Moore’s poem “Poetry” came to mind.  What that says about where I’m at—well, I’ll leave that to speculation! 

Ms Moore’s work has always held a strong appeal to me—her attention to detail, her wit, her intriguing system of lineation (much of it dictated by syllable count), her insistence on the particular all show her to be a poet of very high order, & to my mind she takes her place with the best of the U.S. modernists.  You can read more about Marianne Moore here at the University of Illinois’ website.

In the meantime, please enjoy “Poetry.”


I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful. When they become so derivative as to become
   the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand: the bat
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician--
      nor is it valid
         to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
      a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
      result is not poetry,
   nor till the poets among us can be
     "literalists of
      the imagination"--above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness and
      that which is on the other hand
         genuine, you are interested in poetry.

Marianne Moore


  1. Thank you John! Marianne Moore is one of my very favourite poets.

  2. I think I get where she is coming from. I think I have been there myself - or maybe I am on my way there. What makes words become poems?

  3. i like this nice posth , thanks for sharing

  4. As usual John, I arrive here just in time to give myself that well-needed jolt and spur me on to grander things.

    Wonderful poem!


  5. Hi Titus, Alan, CRD & Kat

    Titus: Good choice in favorite poets! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Alan: A good question--perhaps not one I'm capable of answering right now! Thanks for stopping by.

    CRD: Thanks

    Kat: Onward & upward!


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