1.31.2006

Retrospective: The Look of Marianne Moore

Have you ever wondered what the great Poet Marianne Moore looked like? Really looked like?

I have. Oh, I have. Features to point out: the Hat, the dark colors, the "Puritan" vibe. The chimp she appears to be petting in the image to the left... What was she hoping to learn from the young chimp?

Vital "quotable" capsular style, of course. What else is there for a syllabic rhythmicist like Moore? Perhaps the rampant, animalistic intensity of a creature born without staunch, puritanical inhibitions? Perhaps a southern-gone-northern west-gone-easter like Marianne could relate to the chimp in its alienated majesty.
Here's Marianne at a college reunion. She attended an all-girls liberal arts college. It is unclear whether this hat was a required part of the reunion wardrobe or whether Marianne wore it as an expression of, what else, style! Marianne lived an extremely long life, during which time she had many opportunities not to evolve in terms of fashion, lifestyle, attitude, politics, you get the drift. In short, though she was a great poet, in many ways, Marianne was exactly like every other cranky old person you have ever met. But at least she wore that hat.

This is our here bonnet-less lass at an early date, about to read some of her Modernist obscurities no doubt to a baffled crowd of patronizingly ignorant admirers. It's a wonder Moore had the poise to smile for this photo, what with the grim prospect of another total misunderstanding before her. It's a wonderful testament to her eloquence of mood as well as to her tranquility of mode that Marianne was as well intentioned as to smile before such an ignominious doom. Here she is at the beginning of it all, wearing a swell hat (this was around 1908) getting ready no doubt for a gala ball with the gentlemen of Princeton or Penn. What twisted words must she have wrought from the drunken babblings of oversauced young wealth-pots, sex-craving mud hounds of the grip talk-- How you have stained me Marianne... Promise me, promise me, you will never delightfully smile as a man sips tea beside you, leaning in so as not to spill any tea except for perhaps a bit in the saucer, oh let this never come to pass and I will be happy... Please, give me at least this note of dignity in my squalid, fact obsessed life!





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3 comments:

the actual rod said...

well.

Dan said...

I for one have been asking for more Marianne Moore content for a long time- kudos for finally speaking about this issue!

Anonymous said...

moore suitor(s):
a "real" anthology:

"There is a young man here or was here who took a fancy to me. He is rich, fair to middling and well dressed and fastidious, and melancholy and reclusive. He made me fidget and gnash with indignation."

"I have 7 suitors [!]. What do you think of that? They are all dandies."

"A boy who harangued biology with me for an hour tonight, the one who said he would have dissected the cat with me [!] if he had time, was reading French."