Study Guide

The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing Knowledge

By Marianne Moore

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"The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing" takes the time to remind us what kind of knowledge the mind is capable of getting its hands on (if a mind has hands) -- from learned knowledge (like learning to play the piano or writing music) to the more unconscious, natural stuff (like memories and our senses). Moore seems to think the mind is like a sponge, sopping up whatever it comes in contact with. If knowledge is power, this poem suggests that the smarties will take over the world. But we already knew that anyway.

Questions About Knowledge

  1. Where does the "knowledge is power" idea emerge in this poem? Do you agree with it?
  2. Is there a difference between learned knowledge and instinctual knowledge? Does Moore make the distinction in this poem? If so, what are some examples?
  3. In this poem, do you think knowledge is the best thing the mind has to offer, or are there other, equally valuable things about the mind?
  4. What do you make of the phrase in the final stanza, "Unconfusion submits/ its confusion to proof." Do you think it could have anything to do with knowledge? If so, what?

Chew on This

There is no actual cheerleading for knowledge in this poem—only for the mind's ability to gain knowledge.

Only because the mind can acquire knowledge does it have any power. Otherwise it's just a pile of gray gunk between our ears.

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