Marianne Moore: Poetry

March 26, 2019

“Walking-Sticks” and a Pelican

Filed under: Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 8:32 pm

“Walking-Sticks and Paperweights and Watermarks”


  And making the envelope secure, the sealed

wax reveals a pelican

    studying affectionately

the nest’s three-in-one upturned tri-

form face.”For those we love, live and die”

  the motto reads.


Pendant from Wax Seal with Motto: “For Those We Love, Live and Die”

Moore first published this poem in Poetry 49 (November 1936): 59-64 and reprinted it with modifications in What Are Years.  Curious to know what Moore was describing, I searched the Internet for the quoted words from a seal with a pelican and found a contemporary artist, Shannon Westmeyer, who referred to one. Ms. Westmeyer replied that she had made a pendant from just such a Victorian era wax seal. She sent a photograph and permission to publish it. The seal itself would have been carved in the negative but this image is what it would have produced on a letter.

In heraldry, the pelican represents the parent who would sacrifice herself to save her young, typically a Christian symbol.


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