What is definition of poetry according to Marianne Moore's poem "Poetry"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In her interesting dialectical poem "Poetry," arranged in five stanzas like an essay, Marianne Moore declares first that she dislikes poetry, but it is really "all this fiddle" about poetry for which Moore has a distaste.  Poetry has a place "for the genuine" she declares in her thesis statement of the first stanza. 

With a tone that is both argumentative and witty, Moore continues her dialectic in which she points out that "half-poets" who overanalyze things and try to force meanings upon phenomena are the ones that render poetry ingenuine. For, it is only when the poet creates "imaginary gardens with real toads in them" that poetry truly exists.  The combination of the imaginary with reality is what constitutes true poetry:

In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness and
      that which is on the other hand
         genuine, you are interested in poetry.

When poetry focuses on the genuine, and moves away from "all this fiddle," real meaning is conveyed. Thus, poetic devices such as allusions are used not to be unintelligible, but to reconfigure truth and provide the "literal of the imagination" that is above triviality.

Read the study guide:
Poetry of Moore

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