Marianne Moore’s Poetry and Robert Graves’ The Devil’s Advice to Story Tellers

Both Marianne Moore’s Poetry and Robert Graves’ The Devil’s Advice to Story Tellers are using art to talk about art. Even more: both are using literature to talk about literature, poems to talk about poetry. This metalinguistic (and metaliterary) use of language makes that reader have a text to work on that is a mix of art and work of thesis. Of course, they present some differences:

Most evident at the first view of them is the use in Poetry of deviation in rules of substance, that is not used in The Devil’s Advice to Story Tellers. The usual layout is in Poetry absolutely deviant, in order to present each idea in an analogous way.

However, enjambments are hardly used by both poems. Poetry makes enjambments almost between one graphically separated stanza and another:

“Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a
high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. “

makes use of enjambments between two (not graphically separated) lines:

Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.

The justification for that use of enjambments is that both poems are a sort of poetized prose. For the same reason, the rhyme hasn’t been respected in Poetry. In Robert Graves it has been respected, it has got a full-rhyme and end-rhyme that sometimes forces the author to use the figure of speech of hyperbaton, as in th line “Will make the whole read human and exact”, for example.

This poem have got a quite regular pattern, in contrast with Marianne Moore’s one. This is because in this last case the distintion between the presented poem and the transcoded prose is even minor.

Poetry starts with the sentence “I, too, dislike it”, referring to poetry. There is a contradiction, because someone is saying that hates poetry inside a poem. It’s wrong to identify the poetic I, the character who is telling the story or talking, with the author, but, in this case is which the poem is talking about poetry it’s reasonable to think that the author has put her ideas in the text.

That sentence reminds the phrase pronounced by a ?cellist that Theodor Adorno quoted in his Aesthetic Theory: “I just hate music”. Maybe Marianne Moore wants to say something similar to what Adorno wants using this quote: the most important in art (in poetry, in this case) is not the aesthetic pleasure but the intellectual understanding, idea that is very related with what the poem says in following lines. (However, the hypothesis that Moore had taken it out from Adorno’s theory is wrong as long as Aesthetic Theory has been published in 1970 and Moore’s poem was revised last time in 1935.)

Then poem talks about two faces of poetry. There is a way of read, “ with a perfect contempt for it”, that gives the reader the chance to view the genuine. It is exemplified throw the figure of speech of syntactic parallelism: “Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise”.

The other face is that that have the power of twitch the skin of an immovable critic like a horse that feels a flea, using the same words used in the poem, but that have a problem: we don’t admire what we don’t understand. To illustrate this uses some examples of imagery.

However, poetry is not as school-books, so a reader is interested in poetry as long as is interested both in the raw material that compose it and in the genuine part.

In The Devil’s Advice to Story Tellers, the Devil, who is a universal symbol of stereotype of behavior characterized by not act following rules, advices to story tellers that they don’t must make complicated calculations of the way to tell a history, they should simply lie, ?following the impulse and taking ideas from fantasy.

This are, to sum up, the ideas taken from this two artworks that talk about art.