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by Marianne Moore

Silence Isolation Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

"Superior people never make long visits, (2)

Superior people don't need your constant company. But it doesn't sound like they're fine with being alone all the time. They don't make long visits, but presumably they still do make visits.

Quote #2

Self-reliant like the cat –
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth –  (5-7)

In what way is the cat self-reliant? We might initially assume that the cat is self-reliant in how it hunts. It doesn't need anyone else's help to find and catch the mouse. But that's not what the speaker's father describes here. Instead, he describes the cat running off to eat its prey privately – in other words, the cat is self-reliant in that he doesn't need anyone else around to enjoy himself. It's not getting the mouse but enjoying the mouse that the cat wants to do alone.

Quote #3

they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them. (8-10)

If these superior people are robbed of speech by speech, we assume they've been talking to someone. After all, whose speech delighted them? Like the cat that wants to enjoy his mouse alone, these superior people sound like they might be a little selfish. They grab onto something great someone else has said, but then they want to keep their delight to themselves? That's not exactly enjoying solitude – that's picking and choosing when you want someone around and when you don't. Is that really fair?

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