By looking closely at Marianne Moore’s revisions of her early poem “Half Deity,” this essay shows Moore’s journey to the lyric speech that was the hallmark of both her later poetry and the poetry readings for which she became famous as an older poet. In contrast to recent readings of draft and manuscript materials by Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, the essay argues that Moore’s continual revisions render her less an experimental poet than a teleological one, whose commitment was ultimately both to the “finish” of the lyric poem and to the lyric as a modality of communication rather than a monologue or artifact.
Marianne Moore’s Finish
Christina Pugh is the author of four books of poems, including Perception (2017) and Grains of the Voice (2013). Her poems have appeared in the Atlantic, Poetry, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and other periodicals, and in anthologies such as Poetry 180 (2003). Her essays on poetry and poetics have appeared in Poetry, Emily Dickinson Journal, The Cambridge Companion to Poetry since 1945, and other periodicals and anthologies. She is professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and consulting editor for Poetry.