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This article is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

on Marianne Moore
Like Armour
Jena Schmitt
New Collected Poems by Marianne Moore, ed. Heather Cass-White (Faber & Faber, 2017) £30

WHILE READING New Collected Poems by Marianne Moore, edited by Heather Cass and published by Faber & Faber in 2017, I found myself making lists, lists of the people and places and things from within Moore’s poems. First and foremost, there are animals – pigeons, buffalo, pelicans, basilisks, swans, nightingales, octopuses, snakes, mules, beavers, antelopes, pangolins. There are nectarines and plums, orchids and palm trees; views of Boston, Fujiyama, Thebes, Pompeii; references to Queen Elizabeth, Dante, Francis Bacon, Pliny, an elderly gentleman playing a game of chess.

I found entries in the index for carrots and Chinese lacquer, fools and Flaubert, marriage and manganese blue, waterfalls and Waterford glass. There are quotes from Literary Digest, National Geographic, Field & Stream, Scientific American.

Further, looking back through Moore’s Selected Letters (1997), which I was lucky to find in a used bookstore more than twenty years ago, I noted the writers and artists she corresponded with – H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Cornell, Alfred Stieglitz, Harriet Monroe, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Wallace Stevens, W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Bogan.

There were the nicknames she called her mother (most often Bear) and brother – Biter, Ouzel, Winks, Beaver, Pago, Pen-viper, Badger Volcanologist, Mongolian gazelle, Snowflea, Impala K.C S. The names she called herself – Poisonous, Rusty Mongoose, Fangs, Uncle. The names – Weaz, Pidge, Winks, Rat (though most often Moore was Rat) – that she ...

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