Eight of Marianne Moore’s major poems were published in The Nation in the 1940s and ’50s, including “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing,” “In Distrust of Merits” and “A Carriage From Sweden.” In keeping with the tradition of featuring her work, we present now two of her poems, hitherto unpublished, undated and dedicated to peace on earth. They are from The Poems of Marianne Moore, edited by Grace Schulman, forthcoming from Viking Penguin in October.
Containing roughly twice as many poems as Complete Poems (1968), the new edition includes poems that have appeared only in literary journals or earlier books, and some, like the following, not at all.
Pale Morning Moon,
Dark Blue Black Sea
green cypresses all black against
the sun’s noon fire, liberty is
noble food. To divide
it makes it more; more of it, not
outstanding–futile word. When insight
is not farsight, when grace would be
outstanding without having been
indwelling, there is reason to have sighed.
Boll-i-var, Bow-lee-var, I don’t
know what you call it but I know
he set them free. For the
strengthenings of liberty, thought
of in our minds, done with our fingers,
hoped for in our lives, we’re asking,
save us from the captivity
of surfeit; save us from complacency.
Word that trembles with the glory
Of self-conquest, mend, control. Thirst for quickening compassion,
Grow till craving make us whole.
Power of God, alive with glory,
Unself-love as majesty, Make us one, submerging hatred;
Peace of heaven, make us free.
“To Peace” was apparently composed to Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which concludes Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. A note on the reverse side of the manuscript acknowledges Schiller’s hymn.