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Poetry (by Moore)
Poetry (by Moore)
by Marianne Moore

Poetry (by Moore) Theme of Transformation

The poem has a unique publishing history, due to Moore's many revisions. (See "In a Nutshell" for more on this.) Within the poem itself, the possibility of transformation or change is also a crucial theme, relating to the speaker's attitude toward poetry and how we readers come to define it. Is it possible for poetry to become something the speaker (and we readers) can appreciate?

Questions About Transformation

  1. The poem is composed of two sentences, which both describe the speaker's dislike of poetry. Compare and contrast both what they say about poetry and how they are structured.
  2. Does the speaker still dislike poetry at the end of the poem, or has her judgment significantly changed? If it's the latter, what causes this change?
  3. Even if you didn't know about Moore's revisions, would you still be able to sense that something had been cut out of the poem? How?

Chew on This

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

The speaker continues to dislike poetry at the end of the poem, but she concedes that it might have some value as a place for the genuine.

The shorter version of "Poetry" must be read alongside the longer version to get a complete idea of the poem's significance. Examining the revisions is crucial to studying the poem.

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