Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Silence, please

Since I'm about to run out the door (out of which I should have run at least 30 minutes ago), I'll confine myself to sharing this brief poem by Marianne Moore. "Silence" is an early piece, originally issued in Poems (1924)--which is to say, long before she got lost in the syllabic thickets of her late manner. (Click here for some handy footnotes. And a tip of the hat to Kerry F. for pointing out the poem in the first place.)
My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat--
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth--
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.

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