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Poetry (by Moore)

Poetry (by Moore)


by Marianne Moore

Poetry (by Moore) Theme of Empathy

The speaker lets readers know that she's been in our shoes. She knows what it's like to be frustrated by poetry. We generally think of a poem's speaker as being similar to the poet's voice, but here the speaker positions herself as a reader, too. From this standpoint of empathy for the reader, she tries to work out what might redeem poetry for all of us.

Questions About Empathy

  1. What might have prompted the speaker to say that she, too, dislikes poetry?
  2. Why does the speaker shift from using the pronoun "I" (line 1) to the pronoun "one" (line 2)?
  3. How does the speaker establish familiarity or intimacy with the reader? Consider both what she says or how she says it.
  4. Are you convinced that the speaker empathizes with your point of view as the reader? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker aligns her perspective with the reader's not because she actually shares the reader's opinions, but because she wants to manipulate the reader into accepting her ideas about poetry.

Compared to the casual tone of the first line, the more formal tone of the second and third lines and the use of the formal-sounding pronoun "one" establish a distance between the speaker and the readers. She ends up sounding more like a strict teacher than a friend or comrade.

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