Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"I, too, dislike it..."

Robert Pinsky discusses Marianne Moore's "Poetry," one of her most widely anthologized poems, on Slate.com. The first part of the famous first line of "Poetry" -- "I, too, dislike it" -- is probably the line of poetry that pops into my head more than any other. The line perfectly embodies the conflict I feel about being a poetry fan (the full line is "I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle"). While I typically dislike (ha!) poems about poetry (there are far too many and so many of them are naval gazing dreck, pointing, I think, to a desperate need for poets to get out more), Moore's poem is an exception. It is essentially saying what I think so often: "How can anybody stand poetry with all it's pretense and self-absorption and all the truly terrible verse out there not to mention how humorless so much of it is?" Of course, Moore says it a lot more eloquently and magnanimously than that. She also answers the question.

While Pinsky does, at times, seem to think he can read Moore's mind (she's dead, so nice try), his remarks about her hatchet job revision of the poem are interesting. She reduced "Poetry" to three lines at one point, though the full poem is the one readers prefer and the one that stands, whether she likes it or not.

1 comment:

slowmo said...

Thanks for reminding me of this poem. Actually that's fatuous. I really never read it before, until I followed your link. But I like Moore's strong reminder away from the kind of poem that on the one hand does not have at its core the "rawness" of experience, and on the other uses expression that lacks at least an intelligible reference to what is genuine. There, clear as mud.