Fiona Green is senior lecturer in American literature at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College. She has published widely on Moore and other American poets, in Critical Quarterly, Contemporary Literature, Symbiosis, Journal of American Studies, Genre, and TLS. Her edited collection Writing for the New Yorker appeared in 2015.
This article focuses on the poems Marianne Moore wrote during and between visits to Virginia in the mid-1930s that were published in The Pangolin and Other Verse (1936). Prompted by an exchange of letters between Moore and Ezra Pound in 1935, the essay considers relationships between the composition of verse and the fabric of national narratives. Whereas Pound detects the rhythmic coherence of a robust economy beneath the surface differences of documented history, Moore’s attention to the syllabic material of the prose she read and the stanzas she composed trained her attention on the contingent aspects of historical narrative, and on the accidental likenesses whereby nations make the selves up.