If ever a volume of poems has been badly served by its cover then surely it is the Faber edition of Marianne Moore's Collected Poems. Reading the first twenty or so - absolutely smitten - I realise that the obstacle between me & her work has been ... that cover. Silly, I know. "Oh how superficial" I hear you say. Don't judge ... book ... cover ... I know, I know. & yet...
How to reconcile the audacity of these texts, the woman who corresponded with - of all people - Joseph Cornell & this ghastly, bland, anodyne cover? That picture above all - the worst kind of photo derived portrait depicting someone who resembles some hideous laboratory fusion of Barbara Cartland, my grandmother & the Queen Mother. Agh!
Then I realised what was necessary - a bit of detournement. So I sprinted upstairs & ransacked the boxes of cuttings. Here's my slightly tweezed cover:
& here's the closing lines from MM's 'Picking and Crossing' -
Humming-bug, the candles are not wired for electricity.
Small dog, going over the lawn nipping the linen and saying
that you have a badger - remember Xenophon;
only rudimentary behaviour is necessary to put us on the scent.
"A right good salvo of barks," a few strong wrinkles puckering
the skin between the ears, is all we ask.
Oh yes ...