Poetry (by Moore)
by Marianne Moore
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
This is a poem about poetry, so the title seems pretty self-explanatory. But we have to ask: Is this going to be a poem describing what poetry is, or what it should be? In other words, will Moore offer us a vision of "poetry" that's different from the way we would normally define it?
The title's position in the poem is also unclear: is it just the title, or is it also the first line? Literary scholars waver between calling "Poetry" a three-line or four-line poem precisely because they aren't sure whether to count the title as line 1. In the next line, "I, too, dislike it," the pronoun "it" must refer back to "poetry"; otherwise, it's just a hanging, indefinite pronoun. Thus, we have to know the title already for this line to make any sense; the title isn't just a general label for the poem, but rather the very first thing we have to read.