Study Guide

The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing Quotes

  • Awe and Amazement

    is an enchanted thing (1)

    The first thing we're told is that the mind is an intriguing, delightful thing—definitely a good jumping-off place for awe and amazement. We mean, imagine if this said, "the mind is boring as all get out."

    Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti; (6)

    Once we find out who these music men are, we see that they're the best of the best, which means they're definitely deserving of some serious awe and amazement. Oh, and applause.

    It has memory's ear
    that can hear without
    having to hear. (13-15)

    Hello superpowers! The mind is capable of things nothing else is. Now that's amazing.

    truly unequivocal (17)

    Here's where Moore hammers home the awesomeness of the mind—there's absolutely no doubt about it, she's saying here. The mind is the cat's meow.

    it is a power of
    strong enchantment (19-20)

    Now we're revisiting the enchantment thing. First we had "enchanting" (in the title), then moved to "enchanted," and now "enchantment." Moore is using all the forms of the word to demonstrate as clearly as possible the mind's power to delight.

    It tears off the veil; tears
    the temptation, the
    mist the heart wears, (25-27)

    Here's another example of the power of the mind. It's more powerful and reliable than the heart. We think the heart's gonna put up a fight on this one, but we're willing to side with Moore for the time being.

  • Knowledge

    Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti; (6)

    Both of these men are geniuses in their own right: Scarlatti at composing, Gieseking at performing. Moore uses them as examples of truly knowledgeable and creative minds. So when the mind is at its best, it sounds an awful lot like this dynamic duo.

    […] the mind
    feeling its way as though blind,
    walks along with its eyes to the ground. (10-12)

    This image illustrates the mind's constant, even involuntary quest for knowledge. It's always on the prowl, even when it can't quite see what it's prowling for.

    because trued by regnant certainty, (18)

    In other words, the mind is always set straight by the dominating force of certainty. As opposed to, say, emotions, which are more likely to fluctuate and be uncertain. The mind knows what it's doing. So trust it, Shmoopers.

    It tears off the veil, tears (25)

    Knowledge gives us clarity. Why else do you think cartoons use the light bulb over the character's head to signal an idea?

    Unconfusion submits
    Its confusion to proof; (34-35)

    We really have to use our own knowledge to unravel this line. Basically, the mind relies on proof (knowledge) to keep it clear and running. It doesn't go with its gut.

  • Life, Consciousness, and Existence

    is an enchanted thing (1)

    This first line is packed with meaning. In order for anything to be enchanted, it has to be aware. To put it another way, how can you be enchanted by something if you aren't conscious of its existence? In line one, we're already talking consciousness.

    till the nettings are legion. (5)

    Think of this as an example of things all coming together for some clarity, like an "ah-ha!" moment.

    It has memory's ear (13)

    The mind seems to be aware of all moments in time: thinking back to the past, being present in the moment, and imagining the future.

    it's conscientious inconsistency. (24)

    So even though the mind changes all the time, the change seems to be on purpose. It's making decisions.

    not a Herod's oath that cannot change. (37)

    Again, the mind is able to change. It has the consciousness to make different decisions.

  • Art and Culture

    Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti; (6)

    These two are kind of a big deal. At least, in the classical music world they are. Moore is establishing the connection here between the powers of the mind and art.

    is like the dove-
    neck animated by
    sun; (21-23)

    This a more abstract look at art in the poem. The dove's neck comes alive in the sun, which is what art aims to do—illuminate the beauty in the small things in life that we might otherwise miss.

    [...] in the
    inconsistencies
    of Scarlatti. (31-33)

    Scarlatti is back in these lines and being praised for his inconsistencies. Inconsistencies are what make art beautiful, and the mind is responsible for them.

    Not a Herod's oath that cannot change. (36)

    Herod is an ancient historical figure. If that isn't a cultural reference, we don't know what is. And yet it's worth noting that Herod isn't exactly getting mad props here. So why mention him, if she just wants to poke fun?