Since today is officially the last day of "National Poetry Month," I thought I'd feature a couple poems from one of my very favorite poets. What I love about Marianne Moore is her attention to every single minute detail. Her intense descriptions of the smallest things makes me look at them differently, and her sense of sly humor always makes me smile.
The poems here, "Wood Weasel," and "Nevertheless" have always been two of my favorites. Both are lovely, detailed sketches of her subjects, and both have such striking endings. The final thoughts in these two poems have stayed with me for years.
Side note: Blogger doesn't deal well with poetic formatting, so line breaks are the best I can do here.
The Wood Weasel
emerges daintly, the skunk--
don't laugh--in sylvan black and white chipmunk
regalia. The inky thing
adaptively whited with glistening
goat-fur, is wood-warden. In his
ermined well-cuttlefish-inked wool, he is
determination's totem. Out-
lawed? His sweet face and powerful feet go about
in chieftain's coat of Chilcat cloth.
He is own protection from the moth,
noble little warrior. That
otter-skin on it, the living pole-cat,
smothers anything that stings, Well--
this same weasel's playful and his weasel
associates are too. Only
Wood-weasels shall associate with me.
you've seen a strawberry
that's had a struggle; yet
was, where the fragments met,
a hedgehog or a star-
fish for the multitude
of seeds. What better food
than apple seeds - the fruit
within the fruit - locked in
like counter-curved twin
hazelnuts? Frost that kills
the little rubber-plant -
leaves of kok-sagyyz-stalks, can't
harm the roots; they still grow
in frozen ground. Once where
there was a prickley-pear -
leaf clinging to barbed wire,
a root shot down to grow
in earth two feet below;
as carrots form mandrakes
or a ram's-horn root some-
times. Victory won't come
to me unless I go
to it; a grape tendril
ties a knot in knots till
knotted thirty times, - so
the bound twig that's under-
gone and over-gone, can't stir.
The weak overcomes its
menace, the strong over-
comes itself. What is there
like fortitude! What sap
went through that little thread
to make the cherry red!
Marianne Moore on Poets.org
Marianne Moore on Wikipedia
The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore