Marianne Moore: Poetry

April 15, 2013

Panshin’s Horse in “Reprobate Silver”

Like Panshin’s horse, not permitted to be willful,

Trembling incessantly and champing the bit–

It is worthy of examination.

 

 

“Reprobate Silver”

Written by September 24, 1915

First published in The Poems of Marianne Moore, ed. Grace Schulman, New York: Viking, 2003, p. 43, ll. 3-5.

These lines comprise one of a series of similes for the “Reprobate Silver” of the title. They are suggested by Ivan Turgenev’s novel  A House of Gentlefolk which tells the story of a young man betrayed by wife.

Ivan Turgenev

Ivan Turgenev

Away on a visit to his cousin, Marya, he reads in the press that his wife has died. Thinking himself free, he falls in love with Marya’s daughter, Liza, and they plan to marry. Panshin returns home after the visit and finds his wife alive and well. They do not divorce but live apart; Liza enters a convent.

Moore is clearly concentrating on the horse; perhaps the story is only incidental to the poem, or even merely occasional. Here is the context from a translation that Moore might have read:

Marya Dmitrievna went up to the window.

 How do you do, Woldemar! Ah, what a splendid horse! Where did you buy it ?’

‘ I bought it from the army contractor. . . . He made me pay for it too, the brigand!’

‘ What’s its name ?’

‘ Orlando. . . . But it’s a stupid name; I want to change it . . . Eh bien, eh bien, mon garcon. . . . What a restless beast it is!’

The horse snorted, stamped, pawed the ground, and shook the foam off the bit.

‘ Lenotchka, stroke him, don’t be afraid.’

The little girl stretched her hand out of the window, but Orlando suddenly reared and started. The rider with perfect self-possession gave it a cut with the whip across the neck, and keeping a tight grip with his legs forced it, in spite of its opposition, to stand still again at the window.

Prenez garde, prenez garde,’ Marya Dmitrievna kept repeating.

‘ Lenotchka, pat him,’ said the young man, ‘ I won’t let him be perverse.’

The little girl again stretched out her hand and timidly patted the quivering nostrils of the horse, who kept fidgeting and champing the bit.

‘ Bravo!’ cried Marya Dmitrievna,’ but now get off and come in to us.’

The rider adroitly turned his horse, gave him a touch of the spur, and galloping down the street soon reached the courtyard. A minute later he ran into the drawing-room by the door from the hall, flourishing his whip; at the same moment there appeared in the other doorway a tall, slender dark-haired girl of nineteen, Marya Dmitrievna’s eldest daughter, Lisa.

Ivan Turgenev, A House of Gentlefolk, tr. Constance Garnett, New York: Macmillan, 1906, pp. 13-15.

April 25, 2012

Invitation to Friends of MM

Welcome to a blog on Moore’s poetry.  Please comment and join the conversation. –Pat Willis

A New Column

Moore Poet-Scholars

It has been a tradition at conferences on Marianne Moore to feature poets who acknowledge an affinity with her and her work. Jeredith Merrin is one of them who has just published a new book, Owling, winner of the Grayson Books Chapbook Award for 2016.  It is her fourth collection of poetry. I asked her to begin this series with some remarks about her work’s connection to Moore’s:

owling.Moore is inimitable.  But my new chapbook , OWLING, is indebted to Moore’s both outward- and inward-looking poetry

To write it, I took Moore-like notes on individual species of owls (19 different species); and in some lyrics I do use quotations.  Also, as Moore readers will note, I use syllabics when the occasion seems to call for them. I never knew where an individual species would take me (in subject matter or in form), so a pleasure of composing this little parliament of owls was that I was surprised each time—which I hope means that the reader will find these poems surprising.  They move from natural history to Marilyn Monroe, to Alzheimer’s, to The National Book Award, to Blue Whales, to. . . .

A poet-friend who e-mailed just today called my owl poems “capaciously swervy” (a phrase which might describe “Peter” or “An Octopus”)!

I thought OWLING might be of particular interest to those who are teaching Moore poems and to those who are interested in the study of Literature and Environment (I’m a member of ASLE).

Jeredith can be reached at merrin.1@osu.edu and she is available for readings and classes. OWLING: www.Graysonbooks.com. There is an author page at https://www.amazon.com/Owling-Jeredith-Merrin/dp/0996280979.

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January 26, 2012

Gustavus Adolphus and George Washington

“Washington and Gustavus

Adolphus, forgive our decay.” (ll. 14-15)

“A Carriage from Sweden,” The Nation 158 (March 11, 1944) 311.

Written in 1943, this complex, wartime poem salutes Sweden’s seventeenth-century king and America’s eighteenth-century founding president as

Gustavus Adolphus

a pair. While Americans readily recognize Washington’s deeds and qualities, (“father of his country,” “the American Cincinnatus,” “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen”) his parallel with Sweden’s king is less obvious. Gustavus Adolphus has been called “the founder of modern warfare,” “the protector of Protestantism,” “the lion of the north.” He came to the throne at seventeen in 1611 and died in battle in 1632. As ruler, he reformed Sweden’s government by establishing four estates (nobles, clergy, burghers, and peasants) in the Riksdag (Diet), thus promoting unity within the groups; he fostered secondary and university education; he promoted the Swedish economy through immigration and infusion of foreign capital. As a military leader, he reformed the conduct of wars through the use of light artillery and coordination of military branches during battle. As a Protestant king, he opposed the Catholic League and preserved German Protestantism from the ravages of the Counter-Reformation. In short, he brought Sweden into the modern era.

“[F]orgive our decay” contrasts the world of 1943 with that of 1632 and 1781. In 1632, Gustavus Adolphus refused to compromise his principles and died fighting in Battle of Lützen, a turning point in the Thirty Years’ War in favor of his side, a Protestant victory.  In 1781, George Washington, who refused to compromise or give up even during the long siege at Valley Forge, received the

George Washington

surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown, the site of the final battle of the Revolutionary War.  But “our decay” in 1943 may refer to the tensions created by Sweden’s neutrality during World War II which led the country to provide aid to both Axis and Allied powers, a position maintained in 1943 although later revised to refuse contributions to the Axis cause and to support the Allies. And if this position represents Sweden’s “decay,” perhaps the thinking, in 1943, about post-war recriminations against Germany suggested to Moore the kind of compromises that followed World War I and set the stage for the next war.

January 19, 2012

Jacob Abbott, Children’s Book Author

Jacob Abbott

Jacob Abbott (1803-1879) graduated from Bowdoin College, pursued ministerial studies at Andover-Newton, taught mathematics at Amherst, and founded the Mount Vernon School for girls in Boston. He was the author of more than 180 books for young people. His many series included three from which copies survive in Moore’s library: the Rollo books about a young boy with a feisty personality and enough naughtiness to give his parents ample opportunity for correction; The Franconia Stories, about a brother and sister schooled by their mother; and Historical Biographies. Considered among the first serious books for children, Abbott’s works offered language adult enough to foster intellectual inquiry and development along with examples of stout moral rectitude.

Moore’s published comments on Abbott’s books suggest that she had internalized some of their elements. For example, in reviewing George Moore’s Conversations in Ebury Street she wrote: “[Moore’s writing recalls] some of Jacob Abbott’s most dramatically lifelike colloquies. . . .” (Complete Prose, 103); and when asked “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” she replied: “Beechnut, Grimkie, Florence and John and the Rollo books, by Jacob Abbott.” (Complete Prose, 670).

Rollo in Paris

The books that remain in her library at the Rosenbach Museum & Library are:

From the Rollo Series:

Rollo in Paris. NY: Mershon, 1858

From the Franconia Stories:

Beechnut. NY: Harper’s, 1878

Rudolphus. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1852

The entire series of the Florence Stories:

The English Channel.  NY: Sheldon, 1868

Excursion to the Orkney Islands.  NY: Sheldon, 1868

Florence and John.  NY: Sheldon, 1869

Florence’s return.  NY: Sheldon,1869

Grimkie. NY: Sheldon, 1868

Visit to the Isle of Wight. NY:  Sheldon, 1869

From the Historical Biographies Series:

History of Alexander the Great. NY: Harpers, 1870

History of Cyrus the Great. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1850

Histories of Xerxes the Great. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1854.

The texts of Abbott’s books are available online through googlebooks, archives.org, and Project Gutenberg.

December 6, 2011

MM Meets Sappho

Filed under: Marianne Moore,Resources — by moore123 @ 3:35 pm
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Moore writes to her family on 28 February, 1909, that she has attended a Bryn Mawr lecture on Sappho by Kirby Flower Smith (Rosenbach). She

Kirby Flower Smith

adds that she had been a bit “scared” to be introduced to him but that he was “a pansy—looked expectant” (pansy, here, a term of approval).  Smith (1862-1918) was a professor of Latin and Greek at Johns Hopkins, a specialist in the work of Tibullus. According to an obituary by Gordon J. Laing (The Classical Journal , Vol. 14, No. 9 [Jun., 1919], pp. 567-569). Smith was as good a philologist as the best of them but he never lost sight of the “summum bonum of classical studies, the life and literature of Greece and Rome.”

In 1908, Smith had delivered the annual address at the meeting of the Classical Association of Middle States and Maryland on “The Legend of Sappho and Phaon” (Records of the Past Exploration Society, 1908, Vol. 7, p. 164). It is highly likely that he spoke on the same topic at Bryn Mawr ten months later. In his lecture, Smith detailed the various stories attached to Sappho and Phaon, ending with his own version. He probably made reference to Alexander Pope’s rendering of Ovid on Sappho and Phaon, as evidenced from his take on Ovid’s Heroides:

As the name indicates, the Heroides are a collection of letters supposedly written by famous women of poetry or mythology to their husbands or lovers. In three cases (Paris to Helen, Leander to Hero, Acontius to Cydippe) we have the man’s letter to the woman and her reply.

The Heroides fully deserved the enthusiasm with which they were greeted. Here for the first time we meet with one of the most striking features of Ovid’s maturer genius. This is his marvellous ability to analyze, understand, and sympathize with all the subtler phases and cross-currents of feminine character and impulse, and his consummate skill in bringing them home to the reader through the woman herself.

The Heroides have always been popular, and to this day have lost but little of their intrinsic interest. They were a favorite with Boccaccio, the main source of Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, the model of Drayton’s Heroical Epistles. The much disputed letter of Sappho to Phaon, which lives for us in the translation of Pope, is—perhaps for that very reason—the best known.

—Kirby Flower Smith. “The Poet Ovid,” in Martial, the Epigrammatist and Other Essays. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1920, pp 60-61.

To what poetic use did Moore put this experience? Hard to tell, except to note that in May, she requested for a graduation present “Wharton’s Sappho” (SL 71). In full, that is  Sappho, Memoir, Text, Selected Renderings, and a Literal Translation by Henry Thornton Wharton (New York; London : J. Lane, 1907).

November 9, 2011

George Bernard Shaw, “Prize Bird,” J. B. Kerfoot

Moors submitted her poem “To Bernard Shaw: A Prize Bird” to The Egoist on 8 June 1915 where it was published the following 2 August. The following December, during a trip to New York, she met J. B. Kerfoot, a literary critic who had recently published in Life a paragraph lauding Others Magazine and its “revolutionary” poetry (see Selected Letters, 108-09). During this meeting, she told Kerfoot how she liked “his review of Shaw  (ptomaine and caviar)”, a reference to Kerfoot’s August 29, 1914 piece in the magazine. While Kerfoot’s review may or may not be a source for the “prize bird,” it does mention chicken and egg, and it clearly is the source of “ptomaine and caviar.” The article in full:

Shaw’s Last

JUST as there are tricks in all trades, so there are prides that go with all predicaments. This is one of Nature’s compensations. We could not get along otherwise. And the peculiar and persistent pride that belongs to people who find themselves in the predicament of having children to bring up, is that they arrogantly believe themselves to be better posted on the proper methods of parental procedure than are the only people who have the least chance of knowing anything about the matter—namely, the childless.

Of course to all unbiased observers the fallacy of their position is obvious. Those who marry young and have large families are so busy learning the practical lesson of how children treat parents, that they have neither leisure nor strength left for considering the more abstract question of their own ideal attitude as the supposed controllers of the situation. Whereas any observant celibate with a decently widespread and reasonably intimate acquaintance among the married must have a singularly non-deductive mental make-up if he docs not end by becoming something of an expert on hypothetical parenthood.

Some day, no doubt, matters will be so arranged that all children will be eugenically born of intellectually celibate couples and will be properly trained by married bachelors and old-maid mothers who are conscious of no relation to them. But for the present we are unfortunately faced by a complete deadlock wherein parents continue to furnish terrible examples to leisured lookers-on, but are estopped by that very pride which saves them from despair from profiting by the wisdom they induce in the unwed. And this being the case, one can not conscientiously recommend George Bernard Shaw’s latest volume—Misalliance, the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, and Fanny’s First Play; with a Treatise on Parents and Children” (Brentano’s, $1.-25)—except to such readers as have ceased to be children without becoming fathers or mothers, and to those others who have ceased to be, engrossedly, fathers and mothers without as yet becoming children for the second time.

The present volume contains a typical variety of prefaces and plays. And, as with the chicken and the egg, so, as between the Shaw play and the Shaw preface, the matter of critical precedence has never been satisfactorily settled. Is the preface an exegesis of the play? Or is the play an exemplification of the preface? We can not tell. But—again as with the chicken and the egg—it doesn’t matter, since both, just as they are, lend themselves to so many uses. Beginners generally scramble Shaw’s prefaces. Many professionals poach them. And Americans are only gradually learning that they are delicious just eaten from the shell with a little salt. As for the plays, they are usually roasted. But smothering makes them succulent, and they are sometimes served “supreme”. In the new volume, “Misalliance” deals with “the family” and rings the changes in the familiar Shavian comedy manner upon the unmasking of the hypocrisies and apparent mutual ignorances so carefully maintained between the generations. It was written in 1910 and has never been produced. In other words, it is in process of being “smothered” and will doubtless come out tender and spring-chicken-like some time during the next decade. “Fanny’s First Play” we all know. The treatise on “Parents and Children” is a commentary that runs amusingly amuck through the themes dealt with in both of these. As for “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets”, it is a skit written for and produced at a National Theatre project benefit in 1910, and beyond the pleasing conceit of showing us Shakespeare in the act of gleaning some of his most celebrated phrases from the unconscious lips of those around him, is here little more than a hook from which is hung a delightful Shakespearean essay.

Certain disqualifications for enjoying this book have already been hinted at, but a further word of warning is possibly needed. Shaw is ptomaine to the literal-minded. To the intellectual eclectic his writings are caviar—incidentally a food, but primarily an appetizer. One heralds the publication of a new book of his, therefore, not so much with general urgings to partake as by way of a special notification that he is in season.  

J. B. Kerfoot.  Life, Vol. 64, No. 1660, August 29, 1914, p. 308.

John Barrett Kerfoot, 1865-1920, was born in Chicago, attended Columbia University, and became Life’s literary editor in 1900. He was close to his contemporary, Alfred Stieglitz, and spent his career in NewYork. At left is a caricature of Kerfoot by Marius de Zayas made in 1910 from the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

March 14, 2011

“Four Quartz Crystal Clocks” and Primates

“The lemur student can see

That an aye-aye is not

An angwan-tibo, potto, or loris.”

Kenyon Review 2 (Summer, 1940), 284-5,  ll 27-29

Moore uses examples of small primates to illustrate her call for scientific knowledge in this poem about “hoped-for accuracy”:

AYE-AYE

Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), rare squirrel-like primate of Madagascar, the sole

Aye-aye

living representative of the family Daubentoniidae. Nocturnal, solitary, and arboreal, most aye-ayes live in rainforests, but some have been discovered more recently in the dry forests of western Madagascar.

The aye-aye is about 40 cm (16 inches) long, excluding the bushy 55- to 60-cm tail. Covered with long, coarse, dark brown or black fur, it has a short face, large eyes, and ever-growing incisors like those of rodents. Its hands are large, and its fingers, especially the third, are long and slender. All the fingers have pointed claws, as do the toes except for the large opposable flat-nailed great toes. The aye-aye constructs a large ball-like nest of leaves in forked tree branches and feeds mainly on insects and fruit. It locates wood-boring insect larvae by tapping the tree with the long third finger, apparently listening for the hollow sound of the channels the grubs make through the wood, and then uses this finger to extract the insects. It also uses the third finger to dig the pulp out of fruit. The female bears a single young. The aye-aye is critically endangered and protected by law. Successful breeding colonies have been established in a few zoos outside Madagascar. –Encyclopedia Britannica Online

ANGWANTIBO

Angwantibo

Two related but much smaller primates called angwantibos (Arctocebus calabarensis and A. aureus) live only in the rainforests of west-central Africa. They measure 24 cm (9.5 inches) long and are yellowish in colour, with a long, thin snout. Like the potto, they are tailless, but the third finger as well as the second is reduced to a tiny stub. They too feed on small insects and other slow-moving invertebrates. Pottos and angwantibos are related to the lorises of Southeast Asia; together they constitute the family Lorisidae. –Encyclopedia Britannica Online

 

POTTO

Potto

Primates are generally categorized into three groupings—monkeys, apes, and prosimians. Typically thought to be more primitive than other primates, prosimians tend to be small and nocturnal. The big-eyed potto  (Perodictus potto) certainly fits the bill. Using clamp-shaped hands and feet, with opposable thumbs and big toes, the potto climbs slowly and carefully through the rainforest canopy, and rarely comes down from the trees. If danger is near, the potto holds very still to blend in, and can hold its position for hours. If attacked, the potto tucks down its head and projects the bony processes between its shoulder blades that act as a shield. It can also inflict a nasty bite.

They grow up to 1.3 feet, weigh between 1.7 and 3.7 pounds, live more than 25 years in tropical forests on a diet of fruit, insects and other small animals. –The Cincinnati Zoo

LORIS

Slow Loris

Loris –any of about eight species of tailless or short-tailed South and Southeast Asian forest primates. Lorises are arboreal and nocturnal, curling up to sleep by day. They have soft gray or brown fur and can be recognized by their huge eyes encircled by dark patches and by their short index fingers. They move with great deliberation through the trees and often hang by their feet, with their hands free to grasp food or branches.

The slender loris (Loris tardigradus, now generally classified as two or more species) of India and Sri Lanka is about 20–25 cm (8–10 inches) long and has long, slender limbs, small hands, a rounded head, and a pointed muzzle. It feeds mostly on insects (predominantly ants) and is solitary. The female usually bears a single young after five or six months’ gestation.

Slow loris. The five slow lorises (genus Nycticebus) are more robust and have shorter, stouter limbs, more-rounded snouts, and smaller eyes and ears. They are found in Indonesia and on the Malay Peninsula. The smallest species (N. pygmaeus), restricted to forests east of the Mekong River, is about 25 cm long; the larger N. coucang and its relatives, widespread in Southeast Asia, are about 27–37 cm long. Slow lorises move more slowly than slender lorises; they feed on insects, small animals, fruit, and vegetation. The females bear one (sometimes two) young after about six months’ gestation. Lorises are related to the pottos and angwantibos of Africa; together they constitute the family Lorisidae.

Lorises are often hunted for food, used in traditional medicines, or collected for the pet trade. Many species are vulnerable to habitat loss as their living space is converted into agricultural or grazing land. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), all species except the gray slender loris (L. lydekkerianus) are considered threatened, and three species—the red slender loris (L. tardigradus nycticeboides), the dry-zone slender loris (L. tardigradus tardigradus), and the Javan slow loris (N. javanicus)—are classified as endangered. –Encyclopedia Britannica Online

March 8, 2011

“Virginia Britannia” and Captain Smith’s Coat of Arms

“ostrich, Latin motto,

and small gold horse-shoe”

Life and Letters Today, 13 (December 1935), 66.

In writing about Virginia, Moore investigated the arms of Captain John Smith. She reports the

Captain John Smith, Jamestown

motto, Vincere est vivere (to conquer is to live), and the image of an ostrich with a horse-shoe in its beak (Collected Poems, 1951, note,  p. 171-72).  Representations of Smith’s arms are legion. Their chief components are three Turks’ heads, recalling a slaughter of three Turks by Smith in a battle in Europe before his Virginia adventure, the ostrich with horseshoe, and the motto.

Moore may have met the coat of arms of Captain John Smith during her summer visit in 1935 to Norfolk, Virginia. No doubt she stopped at the site of historic Jamestown and viewed the statue of Smith by Couper which displays the arms on its base. The detail is difficult to see in a photograph but all three elements are present. The statue was erected in 1909..

In any case, Moore writes of an ostrich with a horseshoe that was both small and gold. Only one source found so far supplies the detail of the gold horseshoe, namely The True Story of Captain John Smith by Katherine Pearson Woods (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1901), p. 61. To shorten a long story, Smith received his coat of arms after his battle with the Turks through the offices of Sigismund Báthory, a prince of Transylvania where the fighting took place. The resulting arms represent Smith’s mother and father (wheat sheaves and fleurs de lis) and Smith himself (Turk’s heads).  Page continues:

The crest of Smith of Hough, in Cheshire, which was confirmed in July, 1579, is “An ostrich

Smith's Coat of Arms

argent, holding in its beak a horseshoe, or.” This crest was probably the foundation of our hero’s; the significance of the ostrich (Oestrich or Austria) and of the lucky horseshoe, was likely to suggest itself to a herald of the times. . . . This coat-of-arms was not entered at the Heralds’ College until after the publication in 1625 of Purchas’s “Pilgrims,” in vol. ii, of which may be found a full account of Smith’s doings in Transylvania, taken from “A Booke intituled, The Warres of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia, written by Francisco Farnese, a learned Italian, Secretarie to Sigismundus Bathor, the Prince.”

Woods provides an image of this coat of arms; although uncolored, we know from the description that the ostrich is silver and the horseshoe gold.

February 6, 2011

“People’s Surroundings,” Bluebeard, and St. Thomas

“Bluebeard’s tower above the coral reefs

. . . . . . . .

and the Chinese vermilion of the poincianas

set fire to the masonry” ll. 34, 39-40.

U.S.S. Mercy, 1918, under Brooklyn Bridge

During the summer of 1920, Moore and her mother traveled from New York to San Pedro, California,  on the U.S.S. Mercy, a Navy hospital ship. Their destination was the home of John Warner Moore, brother and son, who was stationed there with his family. The ship must have called at Charlotte Amalia in St. Thomas in the U. S. Virgin Islands at least long enough for Moore to spot “Bluebeard’s tower” and some of the flora.

Bluebeard’s tower in Charlotte Amalia served as a Danish fort in the 18th Century.

Poinciana regia Bojer

According to legend, Edouard de Barbe Bleue, a notorious pirate, captured the lovely Senorita Mercedes and built a tower in which to keep her while he sailed in search of plunder. While he was away, Mercedes discovered not only his gold and jewels but many letters from paramours. She took her revenge by inviting the women to share his treasures. The women turned on her and threatened to kill her—but Bluebeard returned in time to save her.

” The harbor of Charlotte Amalia, coveted by commercial and naval interests, is the most striking coastal feature of

Bluebeard's Tower

the islands, indenting the southern coast of St. Thomas. It is something less than a mile in diameter, a little longer than wide, and is nearly enclosed by the hills, its mouth being approximately 900 feet wide. It is as safe an anchorage as any tropical harbor can be, and affords anchorage for as many vessels as would be at all likely to need it at any one time, in water which is up to 37 feet deep. It is not as spacious as Guantanamo Bay on the southeast coast of Cuba, but as a naval base, with the hills fortified, would immediately command the Virgin Passage.” (P. 24)

[Among the flora is] “Delonix Regia (Bojer) Raf. [Poinciana regia Bojer.] Spontaneous after planting, St. Thomas; St. Croix.”  (P. 5)

–from Nathaniel Lord Britton. The Flora of the American Virgin Islands. New York Botanical Garden, 1918.

February 1, 2011

“Bowls” and Lawn Bowling

Filed under: Marianne Moore,Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 2:08 pm
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“Bowls”

“on the green

with lignum vitae balls and ivory markers”

Secession 5 (July 1923) 12, ll 1-2.

Bowling at Stanley Park, Vancouver

When Moore went to the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 1922, she stopped in Vancouver where she saw a game of lawn bowling. [There is a letter to this effect, not in Selected Letters; reference welcome.] She finished her poem “Bowls” by October of that year. In lawn bowls, there are no “pins planted in wild duck formation, / and quickly dispersed” (ll. 3-2); possibly Moore extended her image to nine-pins played indoors.  Here follows a description of lawn bowling:

“Bowls” is a corruption of the word “balls,” which in its way is an evidence of the ancient origin of the game. Before the Revolution, it was the favourite sport of New Yorkers, when the Battery was the centre of the city’s fashion—and the end of its main thoroughfare still retains the name of the “Bowling Green.”

The game is played with balls about four or five inches in diameter, so that they are held easily in the hand, and made of lignum vitas, enamelled in colours, so as to be gaily effective on the grass. They are slightly flattened at the poles, and are sometimes made oval for scientific play, in order to give them a bias direction at will. A small, round white ball, called the “Jack,” is first thrown to one end of the lawn.

The bowlers, each using two balls, which are numbered to distinguish them, take up their positions at a certain distance from the “Jack,” and each in turn bowls toward it. He whose ball comes nearest counts one. The game is usually fixed at twenty. When there are more than two players, sides are formed, the balls being played alternately, and the ball that comes nearest to the “Jack” counts one point for the side that threw it.

When there are but two players they stand side by side to deliver their balls, but when there are several on a side the usual plan is to bowl from opposite sides of the “green,” the Jack having been placed in the middle. The art in bowling consists in knocking away the opponents’ balls from their positions near the Jack, or in carrying off the Jack itself from among the opponents’ balls, and in bowling nearer than any other without disturbing one’s own balls or the Jack. If, when sides are taken, and both sides have delivered their balls, two balls of one side are nearer than any balls of their opponents’, they count a point for. every ball.

A “green” is about seventy feet square, level, and with the grass closely cut. A bank as a boundary is desirable—where spectators may sit to watch the game. . . .

Balls and Bowling Mat

Balls and Bowling Mat

Each contestant plays two balls alternately, and the privilege of playing first is tossed for. The starting-point in a game is that portion of the green on which the “Footer” is laid—a cloth about a yard square, of carpet or canvas. The player places his foot upon this when about to roll the ball. In a match-game the “Skip” has entire charge of his side in the contest.

Points Of Play

The main point is first to roll the ball as near to the Jack as possible. The next point is to “guard” or “block” it—that is, to roll the next ball so that it may form an obstruction to the attempt to drive the counting ball from its position near the Jack. The “riding” of a ball is rolling it with great force, and is only employed in emergencies. “Raking” the ball is rolling it with force enough to strike the opponent’s ball out of position and put your own ball in its place. “Chucking” is striking a counting ball out of range, and thereby adding to your own counting balls, or striking one of the balls of your own side into a counting place.  An “in-wick” is a ball that curves in to the Jack; an “out-wick,” one curving from the opposite direction— points made by oval balls. An “end” is the completion of an inning on each side, and the playing of so many “ends”—mutually agreed upon—constitutes the completion of a game.

–from Florence Kingsland. In and Out Door Games. New York: Sully and Kleinteich, 1904. Pp. 192-194.

 

Early 20th Century

At the time, 1922, Moore lived in Greenwich Village, not far from New York’s Bowling Green,

Bowling Green Park Today

located at the foot of Broadway.  Its history as an actual bowling green receives various treatments in contemporary accounts, some insisting that players bowled there in the 17th Century.  By the time of Moore’s New York years, it was a pocket park and looked much as it does today.

 

 

 

January 23, 2011

“To Yvor Winters”

American Badger

Sequoia Magazine, put out by Stanford University students, planned a special issue on honor of Yvor Winters for Vol VI, Winter, 1961, and asked Moore for a contribution.  The two poets had a long history, beginning in the 1920s when Moore sent Winters library books while he recuperated from TB in New Mexico and he, in 1924, produced a remarkably astute and positive review of Observations for Poetry. “To Yvor Winters” appears on page vi in calligraphy, not typeset.

The poem addresses well-known characteristics of Winters‘ literary criticism: his insistence the poetry emanate from reason rather than emotion and his preference for formalism.  Moore calls Winters a “badger-Diogenes.”  The American badger, Taxidea taxus, known for its ability to root out smaller animals in their dens and its willingness to take on much larger animals such as bears and wolves, suggests the fierceness of some of Winters’ criticisms.

Diogenes of Sinope (404-323 BC), known as The Cynic (from Κύων—dog  or kynikos

"Diogenes" by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1860

—cynical, doggish), held that man should live by reason, close to nature, and eschew feelings and worldly pleasures. He is symbolized as a man carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man.  He is also pictured as living in a tub in an Athenian square. In choosing Diogenes as an epithet for Winters, Moore evokes, again, Winters the critic. For example, Winters on several occasions lambasted T. S. Eliot for his “Inconsistencies;” Eliot, he said, calls upon two, opposing processes in his work: reason to determine his critical standards, emotion to create poetry. Winters thought only the former was necessary for both criticism and poetry.  (See The Anatomy of Nonsense , 1943.)

Winters the formalist might have had thoughts about the structure of Moore’s apparently “free verse” tribute.  One wonders whether he might have seen the strict syllabic meter hovering beneath the surface of the poem. If one copies out the poem on the following grid, using the title as the first line (a practice Moore followed with some regularity), one finds two stanzas of counted syllables rhymed at the ends of the lines in colors:

5 11  13  18  4 4 11 ; 5  11  13  18  4 4 11

Or, expressed as rhyme alone:  a b b b b c d; a b b b b c d

We’ll never know.

This poem has never been collected in books of Moore’s poems. It is available in Sequoia and in Sequoia: Twentieth Anniversary Issue, Poetry 1956-1976, ed. Michael J. Smith (Stanford: Associated Students of Stanford University, 1976) p. 63.

January 10, 2011

The Dial Press, Lincoln MacVeagh, Observations

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Lincoln MacVeagh, from "Life"

Lincoln MacVeagh  (1890-1972) began The Dial Press, housed in the same building as The Dial magazine, in 1923. He published Moore’s Observations in 1924 (and in a second edition in 1925). MacVeagh spent much of his career as a diplomat and so does not figure as prominently in the history of Modernist letters as his literary efforts warrant.

The description of some of MacVeagh’s papers at Princeton outlines his birth, education, and diplomatic career. http://diglib.princeton.edu/ead/getEad?eadid=MC067&kw= Because those papers concern only the years 1932-45, it is understandable that the description does not focus on The Dial Press.

MacVeagh went to work for Henry Holt and Company in 1915. There he might have had a hand in the publication of work by Robert Frost, Padraic Colum, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Carl Sandburg, Stephen Vincent Benet, and A. E. Houseman, whose work Holt featured before MacVeagh left in 1923. Clearly his own choices, the backlist of The Dial Press, includes work by Ralph Mottram, Glenway Wescott, E. E. Cummings, Maxim Gorky, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Theodore Dreiser, Elizabeth Bowen, Bravig Imbs, and Jean Giraudoux, among many others.  MacVeagh’s list overlaps that of Dial magazine contributors in many instances. MacVeagh sold the press in 1933 when President Roosevelt appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary to Greece, the first in a series of posts that would include Iceland, South Africa, Egypt, Portugal  and  Spain.

The papers of The Dial Press are at the Beinecke Library at Yale: http://webtext.library.yale.edu/xml2html/beinecke.dialpress.con.html#a9

January 6, 2011

“Sea Unicorns” and Leigh Hunt

Filed under: Marianne Moore,Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 2:12 pm
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In Observations (1924), Moore offers a note to her phrase “deriving agreeable terror” and

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

cites Leigh Hunt.  Wherever Hunt originally published his comments, probably in a magazine, they were repeated frequently, most often by Sir John Lubbock in a chapter on the pleasure of reading called “A Song of Books.” The extended reference follows:

“The lover of reading,” says Leigh Hunt, ” will derive agreeable terror from Sir Bertram and the Haunted Chamber; will assent with delighted reason to every sentence in Mrs. Barbauld’s Essay; will feel himself wandering into solitudes with Gray; shake honest hands with Sir Roger de Coverley; be ready to embrace Parson Adams, and to chuck Pounce out of the window instead of the hat; will travel with Marco Polo and Mungo Park; stay at home with Thomson; retire with Cowley; be industrious with Hutton; sympathizing with Gay and Mrs. Inchbald; laughing with (and at) Buncle; melancholy, and forlorn, and self-restored with the shipwrecked mariner of De Foe.”

–in Sir John Lubbock, The Pleasures of Life Complete (Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1894), pp. 39-40.

January 2, 2011

“Apparition of Splendor” and Goldsmith

The note to “Apparition of Splendor” for lines 16-17 refers to a passage from an “essay” by Oliver Goldsmith. The passage below includes the phrases Moore used (or paraphrased) in bold.

Letter XLIX

[Prince Bonbennin circles the earth in search of a precious white mouse with green eyes. Accompanying him, as a cat, is his wife. He meets an old fairy crone who asks what he sought:]

“Well,” says the old fairy, for such she was, ” I promise to put you in possession of the white mouse with green eyes, and that immediately too, upon one condition . . .  that you instantly consent to marry me; . . . if you demur, I retract my promise; I do not desire to force my favours on any man. Here, you my attendants,” cried she, stamping with her foot, “let my machine be driven up; Barbacela, Queen of Emmets, is not used to contemptuous treatment.”

Porcupine Quill Box Owned by Moore --Moore Collection, RML

. . . [Then] the Prince reflected, that now or never was the time to be possessed of the white mouse; and  . . .taking the young Prince by the hand, [she]conducted him to a neighbouring church, where they were married together in a moment. As soon as the ceremony was performed, the prince, who was to the last degree desirous of seeing his favourite mouse, reminded the bride of her promise. ” To confess a truth, my Prince.” cried she, ” I myself am that very white mouse you saw on your wedding-night in the royal apartment. I now, therefore, give you the choice, whether you would have me a mouse by day, and a woman by night, or a mouse by night, and a wonan by day.” . . . [and] he thought it would for several reasons be most convenient, if she continued a woman by day and appeared a mouse by night.

The old fairy was a good deal mortified at her husband’s want of gallantry, though she was reluctantly obliged to comply: the day was therefore spent in the most polite amusements, the gentleman talked smut, the ladies laughed, and were angry. At last, the happy night drew near,

Quills, Moore Collection, RML

the blue cat still stuck by the side of its master, and even followed him to the bridal apartment. Barbacela entered the chamber, wearing a train fifteen yards long, supported by porcupines, and all over beset with jewels, which served to render her more detestable. She was just stepping into bed to the Prince, forgetting her promise, when he insisted upon seeing her in the shape of a mouse. She had promised, and no fairy can break her word; wherefore, assuming the figure of the most beautiful mouse in the world, she skipped and played about with an infinity of amusement. The Prince, in an agony of rapture, was desirous of seeing his pretty play-fellow move a slow dance about the

Porcupine, from a Magazine, Framed by Moore. RML

floor to his own singing; he began to sing, and the mouse immediately to perform with the most perfect knowledge of time, and the finest grace and greatest gravity imaginable; it only began, for Nunhoa, who had long waited for the opportunity in the shape of a cat, flew upon it instantly without remorse, and eating it up in the hundredth part of a moment, broke the charm, and then resumed her natural figure.

–Oliver Goldsmith.  “Letters from a Citizen of the World to His Friends in the East,” in The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Washington Irving, Philadelphia: Chrissy and Markley, 1859, p. 309.

December 9, 2010

“New York” Albino Deer

Filed under: Marianne Moore,Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 4:17 pm
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George Shiras Photo

“deer skins–white with white spots

‘as satin needlework in a single color may carry a varied pattern'”

“New York,” l. 6,

First published in The Dial 71 (December 1921) 637.

In her note when this poem appeared in Observations, Moore offered a long quotation from an article by George Shiras in The Literary Digest. The article discussed Shiras’s experience of albino deer on Grand Island, off the Michigan shore of Lake Superior. It was Shiras who described the fawn’s coat as looking like satin needlework. The Shiras piece originally appeared in The National Geographic for August, 1921, and it is from that issue that this photograph is taken. 

The black and white photographs cannot do justice to the white-on-white coat, better seen in a contemporary color photograph by Michael Crowley. The fawn to the right gives a sense of the lightly shaded coloration. Click on the photograph to enlarge it.

November 29, 2010

Ellen Thayer, Bryn Mawr Friend, Dial Colleague

The Dial Office (today) Built 1846

When Moore was a sophomore at Bryn Mawr, she occasionally wrote home about her friendship with Ellen Thayer: that she planned to take her to a dance and composed a Valentine verse for her (SL p. 24), that she took tea with classmates including Ellen (SL p. 27). Thayer graduated with a degree in Latin and French in 1907, two years ahead of Moore.  In 1925, Ellen became Assistant Editor at The Dial, the same year Moore became Editor. The two women worked closely together until the magazine’s demise in 1929.

Ellen (1885-1971) was the daughter of Albert Smith Thayer (1854-1942). His siblings were Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940), famous as the author of “Casey at the Bat,” Ellen Olive Thayer (1861-1932), later Mrs. Samuel H. Clary, and Edward Darling Thayer (1856-1907), father of Scofield Thayer, founder of The Dial. The Thayer patriarch Edward Davis Thayer owned woolen mills in various Massachusetts towns, sources of great wealth. His son Edward continued to manage the mills without his siblings.

Albert Thayer graduated from Harvard, as did his father and brothers, and became a real estate lawyer, practicing in New York City. He married Josephine Ely and they had two daughters, Ellen, born December 15, 1885, and Lucy Ely, born November 9, 1887, in Flushing, Long Island. Both girls attended Flushing Seminary, a girls’ boarding school.

After Bryn Mawr, Ellen spent the years 1909-11 at the Sorbonne, taught French at Wolf Hall, in Denver, for the next two years, and after some time abroad, taught at the Phoebe Ann Thorne

The Dial Garden (Today)

Model School in Bryn Mawr. At the same time, she served as “Reader in French” at Bryn Mawr, 1916-1916. The next year she matriculated for an advanced degree in English at Johns Hopkins, switching to French in 1918. By 1920, she was working as a governess in the home of Milton and Mildred Gundersheimer in Baltimore, presumably in charge of their daughter Jane, age seven.

While in Baltimore, Ellen met Hildegard Nagel, a native of St. Louis working on her degree in social work at Hopkins. They became lifelong companions. Hildegard (1886-1985) was the daughter of Fannie Brandeis (sister of Justice Louis Brandeis) and Charles Nagel, Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Taft (1909-12), and Hildegard, having finished her schooling at Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, became part of the social set in the capitol, attending parties with Helen Taft, the president’s debutante daughter.  Nagel went on to a career as a psychiatric social worker in New York, a founding member of the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, a student and translator of Carl G. Jung, and a prolific translator of German works, largely in the field of psychology.

In 1925 Ellen and Hildegard lived at (or at least gave as their address on a ship’s manifest as) 152 W. 13th Street, the building that housed The Dial. Both women translated essays and reviews for the magazine, prompting Moore to recall that “foreign letter translations- -unsigned in accordance with Dial practice –should make the ghost of the magazine intensively apologetic to . . . Ellen Thayer and Hildegard Nagel” (Nicholas Joost, Scofield Thayer and The Dial (1964) p. 186). Ellen joined Hildegard in the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, an organizations of Jung enthusiasts, attended Jungian conferences in Switzerland, and assisted in translations of Jung’s work. She was present in 1937 when Jung delivered to the Club his lectures that became Psychology and Alchemy.

Moore and Thayer kept in touch over the years. They attended Four Saints in Three Acts together in 1934. In 1954, Moore inscribed a copy of her translation of The Fables of La Fontaine to her. Moore and Norvelle and Frances Brown ran into Ellen and Hildegard at Stonehenge during a 1965 trip. No doubt there were many more encounters than survive in the published correspondence.

November 24, 2010

“In the Days of Prismatic Color” and Adam

“when Adam

was alone . . .

. . . . . . . . .

. . .nor did the once blue red yellow band

of incandescence that was colour, keep its stripe . . .”

Version from The Lantern 27 (Spring 1919) 35, ll. 1-2, 10-11.

The image of Adam alone, or being created by God, brings to mind Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling; however, that work has no prominent “band of incandescence.”  Blake’s “Elohim Creating Adam,” on the other hand, has what might be considered such a band:

“Elohim Creating Adam,” William Blake, 1795/circa 1805, Tate Online

The gift of W. Graham Robertson to the Tate, London, in 1939, this work was owned by Robertson in 1907 when an edition of Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake was reprinted from the 1863 original, this time with an introduction by Robertson.  Commenting on “Elohim Creating Adam,” Robertson says:

In all the works of Blake are to be found deep and original thoughts.

As we look at his “Creation of Adam” we realise with a touch of awe that its suggestions of the gradual development of man from the elements were formulated many years before the Theory of Evolution dawned upon the world.

Despite his horror of Natural Science, his poetical insight leads him truth-wards almost against his will.

His philosophy and teaching were not for his own time. (p. ix)

This work was reproduced in color and described thus in the catalog accompanying the text: “18. 1795.—*Elohim creating Adam. [Capt. Butts.] Colour printed. The Creator is an amazingly grand figure, worthy of a primeval imagination or intuition. He is struggling, as it were, above Adam, who lies extended on the ground, a serpent twined around one leg. The colour has a terrible power in it; and the entire design is truly a mighty one—perhaps on the whole the greatest monument extant of Blake’s genius. Reproduced at page 406.” (p. 417)

Moore would have seen these texts and the image in November, 1910, when she had a copy of the Gilchrist book (letter to her brother, 1 November 1910, Rosenbach, not in SL).

Gilchrist, himself, has this to say about the image:

In the grand composition, “Elohim creating Adam,” he enters the lists with his life-long idol, Michael Angelo, yet avoids comparison by the complete originality of his conception. In the “Creation” of Michael Angelo—perhaps the noblest picture the world possesses—God sweeps past upborne by Cherubim and, with a touch of His extended finger, kindles life in man. Blake, on entirely different lines, sets before us an almost equally haunting vision.

A weary God, spent with ages of labour, broods over Adam on flagging wings. Virtue is gone out of Him and, as the great sun of the Sixth Day sinks below the newmade world, for the drawing of a breath He pauses before the final effort is made.

Michael Angelo represents the Creation of Man by the Deity. Blake shows the mystery of all Creations; the birth of anything or of everything, born of the Maker’s Agony and leaving Him weary—for God rested the Seventh Day.

Beneath His hands the first man takes shape and is resolved out of the elements; a piteous, helpless creature, marl-stained and almost without form, his weak limbs wrapped about by a monstrous worm.

Beyond the two figures the golden disk of the setting sun shoots forth dark purple rays across blue tracts of sky, lighting the overhanging cloud-canopies with a dim radiance. The great wings of God are golden, tinged here and there with crimson, and the colour throughout the picture is sombrely magnificent.

The whole surface has been so carefully worked over by hand that few traces of printing remain.

Please comment! Are there other candidates for “when Adam was alone?”

November 21, 2010

“People’s Surroundings” and “Instant Beauty”

“medicaments for ‘instant beauty’ in the hands of all”

“People’s Surroundings” in Observations, 1924, p. 67, l. 32.

Moore dropped this reference to a beauty product after Selected Poems (1935); she had supplied a short note in 1924,  “‘instant beauty’ :  advertisement.” It is likely she referred to an advertisement for three “instant beauty” products, Pompeian Beauty Powder, Pompeian Day Cream, and Pompeian Bloom, offered as a bonus to buyers of a yard-tall print of actress Marguerite Clark entitled “Absence Cannot Hearts Divide.”

Clark (1883-1940) played ingenue and young women roles on Broadway and in early silent films, starring as both Topsy and Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She retired in 1921 to be with her husband on their Louisiana plantation. Compared to Mary Pickford, she had a large following, and in 1920, she posed for this color panel for the Pompeian Company. For “a dime,” readers of Cosmopolitan for November could acquire the print and the beauty products and “instant beauty.”

November 18, 2010

“Reinforcements” and Greeks

” . . . .The words of the Greeks

Ring in our ears, but they are vain in comparison with a sight like this.”

Reinforcements,” The Egoist 6.5 (June-July 1918): 83

About the time of  the United States’ declaration of war on Germany on 8 April 1917, or perhaps at the time her brother filed his draft card on 5 June 1917, Moore began a poem about going to war.

Thucydides

“The words of the Greeks / Ring in our ears” goes undocumented by footnote but I would like to suggest a possible source. In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades’ speech to the Athenians, urging them to attack Sicily in an effort to control the Mediterranean world, whips his audience  into fighting readiness. He deplores non-intervention, the policy of President Wilson until World War I had blasted our European allies for nearly three years. Moore certainly had thoughts about involving the United States in the war–her brother was already in the Naval Militia, and were he to enlist as a Navy chaplain (as he subsequently did), Marianne and her mother would lose their home in his Manse in Chatham, New Jersey, and have a very real reason to fear the war machine.

Below is the end of the speech, from Benjamin Jowett’s translation: Thucydides Translated into English. . . . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881, pp. 421-23.

Never were the Peloponnesians more hopeless of success than at the present moment; and let them be ever so confident, they can only invade us by land, which they will equally do whether we go to Sicily or not. But on the sea they cannot hurt us, for we shall leave behind us a navy equal to theirs.

What reason can we give to ourselves for hesitation? Why then what excuse can we make to our allies for denying for an them aid? We have sworn to them, and have no right to argue that they never assisted us. In seeking their true policy alliance we did not intend that they should come and help us here, but that they should harass our enemies in Sicily, and prevent them from coming hither. Like probably all other imperial powers, we have acquired our dominion
by our readiiness to assist any one, whether Barbarian or Hellene, who may have invoked our aid. If we are all to sit and do nothing, or to draw distinctions of race when our help is requested, we shall add little to our empire, and run a great risk of losing it altogether. For mankind do not await the attack of a superior power, they anticipate it. We cannot cut down an empire as we might a household but having once gained our present position, we must keep a firm hold upon some, and contrive occasion against others; for if we are not rulers we shall be subjects. You cannot afford to regard inaction in the same light as others might, unless you impose a corresponding restriction on your policy. Convinced then that we shall be most likely to increase our power here if we attack our enemies there, let us sail. We shall humble the pride of the Peloponnesians when they see that, scorning the delights of repose, we have attacked Sicily. By the help of our acquisitions there, we shall probably become masters of all Hellas; at any rate we shall injure the Syracusans, and at the same time benefit ourselves and our allies. Whether we succeed and remain or depart, in either case our navy will ensure our safety; for at sea we shall be more than a match for all Sicily. Nicias must not divert you from your purpose by preaching indolence, and by trying to set the young against the old; rather in your accustomed order, old and young taking counsel together, after the manner of your fathers who raised Athens to this height of greatness, strive to rise yet higher. Consider that youth and age have no power unless united ; but that the lighter and the more exact and the middle sort of judgment, when duly attempered, are likely to be most efficient. The state, if at rest, like everything else will wear herself out by internal friction. Every pursuit which requires skill will bear the impress of decay, whereas by conflict fresh experience is always being gained, and the city learns to defend herself, not in theory, but in practice. My opinion in short is, that a state used to activity will quickly be ruined by the change to inaction; and that they of all men enjoy the greatest security who are truest to themselves and their institutions even when they are not the best.

Alcibiades got it wrong. Athens was badly defeated at Syracuse, having lost most of its military force; the Peloponnesian wars drew to a close, Athenian democracy yielded to oligarchy, and Sparta became the dominant force, occupying Athens. Was this bit of history the words of the Greeks that Moore heard in the summer of 1917?

November 12, 2010

“When I Buy Pictures” and Blake

Filed under: Marianne Moore,Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 12:55 pm
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“Michael taking Adam by the wrist” (l. 11)

Blake's "Paradise Lost" No. 12

From the Rosenbach website we learn that Moore purchased three Blake prints “in Boston during a 1918 visit to see John Warner Moore and Constance Eustis Moore just after they married. These ‘Copley prints of Blake’s’ were sent to Marianne on approval after she arrived home. [Her mother said Marianne] had been considering buying such prints for 9 years (since graduating from Bryn Mawr) and approved their purchase. See MWM to JWM, Oct. 18, 1918.” One of those prints was “The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden.”

The Copley Prints of Messers Curtis and Cameron of Boston, began  in 1895 as an educational project to provide Americans with access to some of the great art held by museums and collectors in the country.  In their history of the project, The Copley Prints (Boston:  Curtis and Cameron, 1915), the company’s owners explained that they would take mail orders and send prints on approval. The catalog lists prints of Blake’s illustrations to Paradise Lost from the set of watercolor drawings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (the “Butts set”). They were priced at $4.50 each. Moore’s prints are not in color.

When Moore obtained the prints, she framed them and hung them in her apartment. They stayed with her throughout her life, hanging above her livingroom desk in her last apartment, now on view at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. Photographs of these prints are available on Rosenbach’s website by searching for research/objects catalog/blake Copley.

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