What Are Years

By Marianne MooreMACMILLAN
MARIANNE MOORE is the most impersonal of modern poets. Reserved, astringent, fastidious, she will never be popular; but her aristocratic quietism, her supersensitive mental and physical observation, and the intricate skill with which she patterns words, make her a writer of rare distinction. In this volume she illustrates particularly her exquisite perceptions of animals, birds, insects, and flowers. What could be more charming than the butterfly, with ‘tobacco-brown unglazed china eyes and furry countenance,’ that,
choosing a flower’s palm
of air and stamens, settles; then pawing
like a horse, turns round, — apostrophetipped brown antennæ porcupining out as
it arranges nervous
Her emotional warmth — which is often denied — is seen most clearly in the poem that gives its name to the volume, with its theme that courage alone can bring joy to mortality; that man, a prisoner, rises upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.
E. D.