Marianne Moore: Poetry

January 2, 2016

“Monkey Puzzler”

Filed under: Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 8:50 pm

“A kind of monkey or pine-lemur

not of interest to the monkey,

but to the animal higher up which resembles it,

in a kind of Flaubert’s Carthage, it defies one-

this ‘Paduan cat with lizard,’ this ‘tiger in a bamboo thicket.'”

–“The Monkey Puzzler,” The Dial, 78 (January 1925), 8, ll 1-5.

One of the magazines Moore consulted during the time she wrote this poem was The International Studio: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art published in New York by John Lane and Company. While the issue of this title is not yet fully visible on line, there are some “work-arounds” to suggest what Moore saw and what inspired the “Paduan cat with lizard.” A supplement  in an issue from Volume 76, 1923, discusses “a realistically treated cat seated with a lizard in its mouth . . . This is a Paduan work of the Fifteenth Century.” At that time, this small bronze sculpture belonged to the Heseltine Collection of London;  in the 1940s it was acquired by Lt Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, whose sister, the Hon. Mrs. Pamela Sherek, bequeathed it to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1995. The reason for reporting this extended provenance is to tie together today’s Fitzwilliam cat with the one Moore saw in The International Studio in 1923.

When Moore met the cat, it was considered a work of Renaissance Padua. Today it is listed as from southern Germany, 17th century. The image below, taken from the Fitzwilliam collection via the article “The Boscawen Collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Supplement,” in The Burlington Magazine,Vol. 139, No. 1137 (Dec., 1997), pp. 907-912. The figure, below in the upper left photograph, is on page 911.

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1 Comment »

  1. What a great reference! Your post makes me think about “Reprobate Silver,” unpublished in Moore’s lifetime (but is in the Schulman edn), which also mentions Flaubert/Carthage:

    It is quite as much a matter of art as the careful
    And a kind of Carthage by Flaubert.

    It’s nice to realize that the stunning image of “a kind of Carthage by Flaubert” made its way into another poem – I hadn’t thought about this connection before. The two poems read well together, although “Reprobate Silver” looks like it’s unfinished. Thank you for the post!

    Comment by Laura Richardson — January 5, 2016 @ 5:41 pm |Reply


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