Verse > Anthologies > Alfred Kreymborg, ed. > Others for 1919
Alfred Kreymborg, ed.  Others for 1919.  1920.
By Marianne Moore
WITH its baby rivers and little towns, each with its abbey or its cathedral;
  with voices—one voice perhaps, echoing through the transept—the
criterion of suitability and convenience; and Italy with its equal
    shores—contriving an epicureanism from which the grossness has been
extracted: and Greece with its goats and its gourds, the nest of modified illusions:        5
  and France, the “chrysalis of the nocturnal butterfly” in
whose products, mystery of construction diverts one from that which was the object of one’s
    search—substance at the core: and the far East with its snails, its emotional
shorthand and jade cockroaches, its rock crystal and its imperturbability,
  all of museum quality: and America where there        10
is the little old ramshackle victoria in the south, where cigars are smoked on the
    street in the north; where there are no proof readers, no silkworms, no digressions;
the wild man’s land; grass-less, links-less, language-less country—in which letters are written
  not in Spanish, not in Greek, not in Latin, not in shorthand
but in plain American which cats and dogs can read! The letter “a” in psalm and calm, when         15
    pronounced with the sound of “a” in candle, is very noticeable but
why should continents of misapprehension have to be accounted for by the
  fact? Does it follow that because there are poisonous toadstools
which resemble mushrooms, both are dangerous? In the case of mettlesomeness which may be
    mistaken for appetite, of heat which may appear to be haste, no con-        20
conclusions may be drawn. To have misapprehended the matter, is to have confessed
  that one has not looked far enough. The sublimated wisdom
of China, Egyptian discernment, the cataclysmic torrent of emotion compressed
  in the verbs of the Hebrew language, the books of the man who is able
to say, “I envy nobody but him and him only, who catches more fish than        25
  I do,”—the flower and fruit of all that noted superi-
ority—should one not have stumbled upon it in America, must one imagine
    that it is not there? It has never been confined to one locality.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.