Marianne Moore: Poetry

December 1, 2020

Marianne’s Playlist

Filed under: Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 7:00 pm

Poets visiting a class were describing playlists they used while writing or on other occasions. We can’t know what Moore would have listed but reading through her poems looking for references to music turns up both musicians and individual works. It is likely that she listened to concerts over the radio while occasoinally attending concerts in Manhattan.

Radio Programs from the 1930s to the 1950s timeline | Timetoast timelines
1930s V(ntage Radio

Here are some musical episodes from the poems:

“Tom Fool at Jamaica”

    Of course, speaking of champions, there was Fats Waller  

with the feather touch, giraffe eyes, and that hand alighting in  

    Ain’t Misbehavin’ Ozzie Smith and Eubie Blake

      ennoble the atmosphere; you recall the Lippizan school;

the time Ted Atkinson charged by on Tiger Skin—

    no pursuers in sight-eat-loping along. And you may have seen a monkey

      on a greyhound. But Tom Fool …

Eubie Blake, “Love Will Find a Way” from Shuffle Along

Fats Waller plays “Ain’t Misbehavin” from Stormy Weather

“The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing”

like an enchanted thing

    like the glaze on a


      subdivided by sun

      till the nettings are legion

Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    It’s fire in the dove-neck’s

iridescence;  in the


of Scarlatti.

This page of the Marianne Moore blog comments on these lines and offers examples of the music.

“Carnegie Hall: Rescued”

Paderewski’s “palladian

majesty” made it a fane;

      Tchaikovsky, of course,

          on the opening

      night, 1891;

           and Gilels, a master, playing.

Paderewski played more than one concert during Carnegie Hall’s first year, 1891. The following web site discusses that history and gives some of the works played.

Tchaikovsky, “Marche Solennelle” (Tchaikovsky thusly retitled his “Coronation “March,” written for the Tsar’s Coronation, thinking that the American audience at Carnegie Hall’s opening concert would not know the difference. He was wrong.)

Gilels, 1979, playing Beethoven’s “Variation 32” at Carnegie Hall


is some such word

    as the chord

        Brahms had heard

        from a bird

. . . . . . . . .. . .

. . .Propriety is

             Bach’s Solfeggietto—

             harmonica and basso.

[Click on the following URLs} Brahms – Liebeslieder-Walzer Op.52a C. P. E. Bach Solfeggietto in C Minor (Moore’s footnote gives this as “Karl Philipp Emanuel’s Solfeggietto in C Minor)


I am hard to disgust,

but a pretentious poet can do it;

a person without a taproot; and

impercipience can do it, did it.

But why talk about it—

offset by Musica Antiqua’s

“legendary performance”

of impassioned exactitude.

Moore’s note: An Evening of Elizabethan Verse and Its Music—W. H. Auden and the New York Pro Musica Antiqua; Noah Greenberg, Director. Legendary Performances.


  1. Pat,

    This is an amazing post!

    it must have taken a long time to put together — poetry, history, pictures!

    For me, in this first reading of your post, it is all I can do to read “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing”

    Her insights!



    Comment by Eugene Meyer — December 2, 2020 @ 12:09 am |Reply

    • So glad you enjoyed it! How about a playlist of your own?

      Comment by moore123 — December 3, 2020 @ 12:30 pm |Reply

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