Picking And Choosing

By Marianne Moore

Literature is a phase of life: if
one is afraid of it, the situation is irremediable; if
one approaches it familiarly,
what one says of it is worthless. Words are constructive
when they are true; the opaque allusion—the simulated flight

upward—accomplishes nothing. Why cloud the fact
that Shaw if self-conscious in the field of sentiment but is
otherwise re-
warding? that James is all that has been
said of him but is not profound? It is not Hardy
the distinguished novelist and Hardy the poet, but one man

“interpreting life through the medium of the
emotions.” If he must give an opinion, it is permissible that the
critic should know what he likes. Gordon
Craig with his “this is I” and “this is mine,” with his three
wise men, his “sad French greens” and his Chinese cherries—
Gordon Craig, so

inclinational and unashamed—has carried
the percept of being a good critic, to the last extreme. And
Burke is a
psychologist—of acute, raccoon-
like curiosity. Summa diligentia;
to the humbug whose name is so amusing—very young and ve-
ry rushed, Caesar crossed the Alps on the “top of a
diligence.” We are not daft about the meaning but this
with wrong meanings puzzles one. Humming-
bug, the candles are not wired for electricity.
Small dog, going over the lawn, nipping the linen and saying

that you have a badger—remember Xenophon;
only the most rudimentary sort of behavior is necessary
to put us on the scent; a “right good
salvo of barks,” a few “strong wrinkles” puckering the
skin between the ears, are all we ask.

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