Marianne Moore: Poetry

June 4, 2010

“Egyptian Fish Pulled Glass Bottle” for Scofield Thayer

“Polychrome Vase in Form of a Fish, El-Amarna, XVIIIth Dynasty, about 1365, B.C.

Glass (Height, 2 3/4 in.) No. 55193, The British Museum B 379″

–British Museum Postcard

Moore and her mother went to England in the summer of 1911 and on a trip to the British Museum might have seen this glass bottle among the Egyptian treasures (in the 1980s it rested there on the top shelf of a display of Egyptian glass). But whether she encountered it first hand, she certainly met it in the pages of the Illustrated London News for August 6, 1921 and created her “An Egyptian Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish.” She published the poem in Observations (New York: Dial Press, 1924), with the company founded by Lincoln MacVeagh which shared space with The Dial magazine, owned by Scofield Thayer and J. Sibley Watson.

With Observations, Moore received The Dial Award for “service to literature,”  joining Eliot, Sherwood Anderson, Van Wyck Brooks, and later, Williams,  Pound, Cummings, and Kenneth Burke. Moore presented Scofield Thayer with an extra-illustrated copy of her book. One of her additions  is this tracing of the black-and-white photograph from The Illustrated London News, identified thusly in her hand. The book is in the American Literature collection at the Beinecke Library at Yale where The Dial papers are also housed.

” From Tell El Amarna Fish-shaped glass bottle

London Ill[ustrated] News – May 6 – 1921″

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