Marianne Moore 1935

Marianne Moore (1887–1972). Photo by George Platt Lynes (1907-1955). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Marianne Moore
Born November 15, 1887(1887-Template:MONTHNUMBER-15)
Kirkwood, Missouri, U.S.
Died May 5, 1972(1972-Template:MONTHNUMBER-05) (aged 84)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Poet

Marianne Moore (November 15, 1887 - February 5, 1972) was a Modernist American poet and prose writer noted for her irony and wit.

Life Edit

Youth and educationEdit

Moore was born in Kirkwood, Missouri, in the manse of the Presbyterian church where her maternal grandfather, John Riddle Warner, served as pastor. She was the daughter of Mary (Warner) and mechanical engineer and inventor John Milton Moore. She grew up in her grandfather's household, her father having left the family before her birth.

Moore entered Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1905, and graduated 4 years later.

Career Edit

Moore taught at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, until 1915, when she began to publish poetry professionally.

Moore came to the attention of poets as diverse as Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, H.D., T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound beginning with her initial publication in 1915. From 1925 until 1929, Moore served as editor of literary magazine The Dial. This continued her role, similar to that of Pound, as a patron of poetry; much later, she encouraged promising young poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, and James Merrill.

Moore became a minor celebrity in New York literary circles. She attended boxing matches, baseball games and other public events, dressed in what became her signature garb, a tricorn hat and a black cape. She particularly liked athletics and athletes and was a great admirer of Muhammad Ali, for whose spoken-word album, I Am the Greatest!, she wrote liner notes. Moore continued to publish poems in various journals, including The Nation, The New Republic, and Partisan Review, as well as publishing various books and collections of her poetry and criticism.

Moore corresponded with Ezra Pound from 1919, even during his incarceration. She opposed Benito Mussolini and Fascism from the start and objected to Pound's antisemitism. Moore herself was a conservative Republican and supported Herbert Hoover in 1928 and 1932.[1][2][3] She was a life-long ally and friend of American poet Wallace Stevens. (See for instance her review of Stevens's debut collection, Harmonium, and in particular her comment about the influence of Henri Rousseau on the poem "Floral Decorations for Bananas'"}.

Later yearsEdit

In 1955, Moore was informally invited by David Wallace, manager of marketing research for Ford's "E-car" project, and his co-worker Bob Young, to provide input with regard to the naming of the car. Wallace's rationale was "Who better to understand the nature of words than a poet?" On October 1955, Moore was approached to submit "inspirational names" for the E-car, and on November 7, she offered her list of names, which included such notables as "Resilient Bullet", "Ford Silver Sword", "Mongoose Civique", "Varsity Stroke", "Pastelogram" and "Andante con Moto." On December 8, she submitted her last and most famous name, "Utopian Turtletop." The E-car was finally christened by Ford as the Edsel.[4]

Moore never married. She moved to 35 West 9th Street in Manhattan in 1966, after 37 years at 260 Cumberland Street in Brooklyn.[5]

Not long after throwing the first pitch for the 1968 season in Yankee Stadium, Moore suffered a stroke. She suffered a series of strokes thereafter, and died in 1972. She was interred in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. The New York Times devoted an entire page to an account of her life and death.

Writing Edit


17. Marianne Moore

Moore's most famous writing is perhaps the poem entitled, appropriately, "Poetry", in which she hopes for poets who can produce "imaginary gardens with real toads in them." It also expressed her idea that meter, or anything else that claims the exclusive title "poetry", is not as important as delight in language and precise, heartfelt expression in any form. She often composed her own poetry in syllabics. These syllabic lines from "Poetry" illustrate her position: poetry is a matter of skill and honesty in any form whatsoever, while anything written poorly, although in perfect form, cannot be poetry:

::::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
Like Robert Lowell, Moore revised a great many of her early poems (including "Poetry") in later life. These appeared in The Complete Poems of 1967, after which critics tended to accept as canonical the "elderly Moore's revisions of the exuberant texts of her own poetic youth." Facsimile editions of the theretofore out-of-print 1924 Observations became available in 2002. Since that time there has been no critical consensus about which versions are authoritative.[6][7]

Recognition Edit

In 1933, Moore was awarded the Helen Haire Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine.

Moore's Collected Poems of 1951 is perhaps her most rewarded work; it earned her the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the National Book Award, and the Bollingen Prize.

In 1996, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Her living room has been preserved in its original layout in the collections of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia.[8] Her entire library, knick-knacks (including a baseball signed by Mickey Mantle), all of her correspondence, photographs, and poetry drafts are available for public viewing.



  • Poems. London: Egoist Press, 1921
    • revised & expanded as Observations. New York: Dial Press, 1924.
  • Selected Poems (with introduction by T.S. Eliot). New York: Macmillan, 1935.
  • The Pangolin, and other verse: Five poems. London: Brendin, 1936.
  • What Are Years, and other poems. New York: Macmillan, 1941.
  • Nevertheless. New York: Macmillan, 1944.
  • A Face: A poem. Cummington, MA: Cummington Press, 1949.[9]
  • Collected Poems. New York: Macmillan, 1951.
  • Like a Bulwark. New York: Viking, 1956.
  • O to Be a Dragon. New York: Viking, 1959.
  • A Marianne Moore Reader. New York: Viking, 1961.
  • Eight Poems (illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker). New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1962.
  • Occasionem cognosce: A poem. Lunenberg, VT: Stinehour Press, 1963.
  • The Arctic Ox. London: Faber, 1964.
  • Dress and Kindred Subjects. Ibex Press, 1965.
  • Le mariage (French). New York: Ibex Press, 1965.
  • A Talisman. Adams House, 1965.
  • Poetry and Criticism. Cambridge, MA: privately published, 1965.
  • Silence. L.H. Scott, 1965.
  • Tell Me, Tell Me: Granite, steel, and other topics (poetry & prose). New York: Viking, 1966.
  • Tippoo's Tiger. New York: Phoenix Book Shop, 1967.
  • Complete Poems. New York: Macmillan, 1967; Harmondsworth, UK, & New York: Penguin, 1982; London: Faber, 1984.
  • Selected Poems. London: Faber, 1969.
  • Unfinished Poems. Philadelphia: P.H. & A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation, 1972.
  • Becoming Marianne Moore: The early poems, 1907-1924 (edited by Robin G. Schulze). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.[9]
  • Poems (edited by Grace Schulman). New York: Viking, 2003.[9]
  • A-Quiver with Significance: Marianne Moore, 1932-1936 (edited by Heather Cass White). Victoria, BC: ELS Editions, 2008.[9]
  • Adversity and Grace: Marianne Moore, 1936-1941 (edited by Heather Cass White). Victoria, BC: ELS Editions, 2012.[9]


  • The Absentee: A comedy in four acts (play based on Maria Edgeworth's novel of the same name). House of Books, 1962.


  • Predilections (essays and reviews). New York: Viking, 1955.
  • Idiosyncrasy and Technique: Two lectures. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1958.
  • Four Poets on Poetry (by Richard P. Blackmur, Yvor Winters, Marianne Moore, & Mark Van Doren; edited by Don Cameron Allen). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1959.[10]
  • The Accented Syllable (first appeared in The Egoist, October 1916). Albondocani Press, 1969.
  • A Collection of Critical Essays (edited by Charles Tomlinson. Prentice-Hall, 1969.[11]
  • The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore (edited by Patricia C. Willis). New York: Viking, 1986; London: Faber, 1987.[9]


  • (Co-translator) A. Stifter, Rock Crystal. Pantheon, 1945.
  • (Translator) Selected Fables of La Fontaine. London: Faber, 1955
    • revised edition, New York: Viking, 1964.
  • Puss in Boots, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella (retelling of three fairy tales based on the French tales of Charles Perrault; illustrated by Eugene Karlin). New York: Macmillan, 1963.


Marianne Moore reads Bird-Witted

Marianne Moore reads Bird-Witted

  • Letters from and to the Ford Motor Company. Pierpont Morgan Library, 1958.
  • Selected Letters (edited by Bonnie Costello). New York: Knopf, 1997.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. Carson, Luke (September, 2002). "Republicanism and Leisure in Marianne Moore's Depression". Modern Language Quarterly 63: 315-342. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  2. Burt, Stephen (November 11, 2003). "Paper Trail: The true legacy of Marianne Moore, modernist monument". Slate. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  3. Hall, Donald (October 26, 1997). "The Post Modernist Marianne Moore's Letters Add to our Appreciation of a Great Poet's Overflowing Life". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  4. Her experience was memorably recounted in her April 13, 1957 epistolic article for The New Yorker called "Correspondence with David Wallace". It is anthologized in Mordechai Richler's The Best of Modern Humour, Knopf, 1983, pp 66-73. She notes in her preface, "[These letters] should correct the impression persistent among inquirers that I succeeded in finding for the new products division - a name for the new car I had been recruited to name; whereas I did not give the car the name it now has." See also:
  5. Page, Chester. Memoirs of a Charmed Life in New York. iUniverse, Inc. (2007)
  6. McCabe, Susan. Cinematic Modernism: Modernist Poetry and Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2005): 259.
  7. Schulze Robin G. (ed.). Becoming Marianne Moore : the early poems, 1907-1924. Berkeley: University of California Press (2002)
  8. "Marianne Moore Archive". Rosenbach Museum & Library. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Search results = au:Marianne Moore, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Dec. 21, 2014.
  10. Search results = au:Richard P. Blackmur, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 4, 2014.
  11. Charles Tomlinson b. 1927, Poetry Foundation, Web, July 15, 2012.
  12. "Marianne Moore 1887-1972," Poetry Foundation, Web, Dec. 7, 2011.

External linksEdit

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