poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“In This Age of Hard Trying, Nonchalance Is Good and” was originally published in the modernist literary magazine Chimaera in July of 1916. 

In This Age of Hard Trying, Nonchalance Is Good and

“really, it is not the
   business of the gods to bake clay pots.” They did not
      do it in this instance. A few
         revolved upon the axes of their worth
  as if excessive popularity might be a pot;

they did not venture the
   profession of humility. The polished wedge
      that might have split the firmament
         was dumb. At last it threw itself away
  and falling down, conferred on some poor fool, a privilege.

“Taller by the length of
   a conversation of five hundred years than all
      the others,” there was one, whose tales
         of what could never have been actual—
  were better than the haggish, uncompanionable drawl

of certitude; his by-
   play was more terrible in its effectiveness
      than the fiercest frontal attack.
         The staff, the bag, the feigned inconsequence
  of manner, best bespeak that weapon, self-protectiveness.
 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Marianne Moore

Marianne Moore

Born in 1887, Marianne Moore wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other Modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise

by this poet

poem

With an elephant to ride upon—"with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,"
   she shall outdistance calamity anywhere she goes.
Speed is not in her mind inseparable from carpets. Locomotion arose
   in the shape of an elephant; she clambered up and chose
to travel laboriously. So far as

poem
   For authorities whose hopes
are shaped by mercenaries?
   Writers entrapped by
   teatime fame and by
commuters' comforts?  Not for these
   the paper nautilus
   constructs her thin glass shell.

   Giving her perishable
souvenir of hope, a dull
   white outside and smooth-
   edged inner surface
glossy as
poem
   Although the aepyornis
   or roc that lived in Madagascar, and
the moa are extinct,
the camel-sparrow, linked
   with them in size--the large sparrow
Xenophon saw walking by a stream--was and is
a symbol of justice.

   This bird watches his chicks with
   a maternal concentration-and he's
been mothering the