In speculative aesthetics that drove modernist

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in speculative aesthetics that drove modernist energies, it was seldom given a pride of place beside the touchstones of poetic modernism: The Waste Land , Mauberley , or Spring and All . The material questions that Moore raises here, those regarding the real and the imaginary, however, have since then found echoes in postmodernist practices. To Moore we owe the idea that Poetry is preëminently an Idea , that every poem is trying to come to grips with the Idea of Poetry, that to keep trying to have this Idea is why poets are in this world, and why we read K. Narayana Chandran 4 Considering that the pre-Latin source of genuine meant ‘native, free-born,’ a genuine person is free from the affectations and hypocrisies endemic to her age.
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7 them. Both the “imaginary gardens” and the “real toads in them” are infinite parts of an ideational compound; they guarantee each other. The strife is real. It takes a poet like Moore to tell us that it is real, and that it is here, in poetry, that we recognize its complex reality. The exploratory logic and rhythm of its speculation has made “Poetry” a minor classic, a text that inaugurated so to speak such speculative narratives involving gardens and toads by contemporary poets like Russell Edson. At first my students seemed slow to appreciate these family resemblances, but they became very real when the students were reminded of Moore’s poetic menagerie, her very suggestive variations upon La Fontaine’s Fables , beside Edson’s fables of animal or non-human identity. Edson versifies absurdities to such an extent that readers turn genealogists of sorts — isn’t this fable a cross between Samuel Beckett’s plays and Marianne Moore’s poetry? Let’s examine a sample: PIANO LESSONS There was once a girl who was learning to play piano by taking it for walks in a wood. She would guide it with an elephant goad. Mother would say, oh do be careful, its [sic] such a costly piece of furniture. The piano farted. Father said, take that horrible old man out of here or I shall really have to remember who I am, for I shall be shouting in such a manner to be quite unlike my self. But in time the piano became the greatest girl player in all the world. Father said, how odd. Mother said, oh my. The piano used an elephant goad in quite such a manner as to bring the girl to song. It is quite lovely, said father. It is not unlovely, said mother. Very soon the house was filled with little pianos. Father said, well, I hardly expected this. Imaginary gardens with real toads in them
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8 And mother said, well, this was not quite expected, but past the initial shock one learns to expect what has already happened. (Edson 1973:78) To the tweeters and iPoders of my class of twenty-year-olds, this narrative, I believe, first sounded no less bizarre than Moore’s “Poetry” probably had to my generation that put up with long delays at bus-train- stations, post-offices, and public offices. Someone interested in the evolutionary epistemology of human behaviour might yet tell us whether
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