Poetry (Moore)

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For works with similar titles, see Poetry.
Poetry
by Marianne Moore
"Poetry" was first published in 1919 by the literary magazine Others: A Magazine of the New Verse; it was the lead poem of the final issue of the magazine. This version is from Others for 1919: An Anthology of the New Verse. Moore published many other versions of the poem during her lifetime.

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important
                beyond all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it,
                one discovers that there is in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
       Hands that can grasp, eyes
       that can dilate, hair that can rise
            if it must, these things are important not be-
                    cause a

high sounding interpretation can be put upon them
                but because they are
   useful; when they become so derivative as to
                become unintelligible, the
   same thing may be said for all of us – that we
       do not admire what
       we cannot understand. The bat,
            holding on upside down or in quest of some-
                    thing to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll,
                a tireless wolf under
    a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a
                horse that feels a flea, the base-
    ball fan, the statistician – case after case
        could be cited did
        one wish it; nor is it valid
            to discriminate against "business documents
                    and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important.
                One must make a distinction
    however: when dragged into prominence by half
                     poets,
                the result is not poetry,
    nor till the autocrats among us can be
        "literalists of
        the imagination" – above
            insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads
                in them, shall we have
    it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand,
                in defiance of their opinion –
        the raw material of poetry in
     all its rawness, and
     that which is on the other hand,
        genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).