Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Bruce Guernsey


Marianne Mooore's poetry embodies two different types of work. As well as the objective poetry that her contemporaries called modernist or Imagist (labels which she rejected), she also wrote quite personal, subjective poems. Two factors, theme and subject matter, unify her work and give evidence of her distinct poetic voice.

The content and form of Moore's work developed from her personal life and interests. In her childhood, loss of a beloved grandfather and changes of household, as well as a lifelong attachment to her mother, affected the poet deeply, as evidenced by her consistent theme of protection. Exotic animals populate her poems, displaying their natural means of protection. Her early interest in painting also found a place in her poetry, as many objects of art became subjects for her pen. The objectivity and meticulous style found in her work both go back to her love of biology and scientific method which she acquired in her days as a student at Bryn Mawr.

Marianne Moore's style endeared her to the avant garde poets of New York in the early decades of the 20th century. T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and others found her clinical objectivity ideal as they worked to develop poetry along similar lines.

Moore retained her poetic abilities and popularity into her seventh decade, yet she did not even consider herself a poet, saying that her work could only be called poetry because it fit in no other category.

We can rectify this seeming contradiction by realizing that, as she says in the final revision of "Poetry," (The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore. New York: Macmillan / Viking, 1981, 36) the reader can find in poetry "a place for the genuine." For Marianne Moore, the "genuine" can be objective, the undisputable truth of science or subjective, the emotional honesty of art.