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Posts Tagged ‘Marianne Moore’

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            The Grave                            

Man looking into the sea,

taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to it yourself,  it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,

but you cannot stand in the middle of this;

the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave. 

The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot at the top, reserved as their contours, saying nothing; repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea; 

the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look. 

There are others besides you who have worn that look – whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them for their bones have not lasted:  men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave,

and row quickly away –  the blades of the oars moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death. 

The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx – beautiful under networks of foam, and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed; 

the birds swim throught the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore-  \the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them; and the ocean,  under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bell-bouys, advances as usual,  looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound

to sink-  in which if they turn and twist,

it is neither with volition nor consciousness.

When first looking over The Grave, one realizes that the speaker is the poet while observing a man looking into the sea. Ms. Moore notes that everyone has the same right to view the sea. The sea is universal. She says “it is human nature to stand in the middle of the thing, but you cannot stand in the middle of this”. I think that “this” is referring to inevitable death, especially with the mention of a grave.The sea collects the dead as God collects the dead, but the sea has a ravenous( “rapacious look”) appetite, and we like to think of God as a little less savage. I found the image of men lowering nets “unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave”. It’s a paradox : men getting fish (life) from the depths of death. The last few lines remind us that although the world may not care about us, we can find our own value and meaning in this life. after we die, life goes on. The whole world continues on without consciousness of who we were, what we were, why we mattered. It’s an unsettling thought to think that our secrets, our achievements are all washed away- pulled in the depths.

This poem reminded me of the movie The Guardian, with the coast guard captain who drowned. He might live on in memories for a few years, but after the inital grieving period, things will resume as they were “heretofore”.

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