This morning serendipity caused me to trip over and into this wonderful poem by the great American modernist poet Marianne Moore, “Style” (c. 1956). Revel in the language and the waltz of words. Revel, I say. Revel too in the names of Moore’s characters and allusions, some of which Ms. Moore elaborated upon in end-notes to her poem; I’ve added my own explicatory revelations and links at the bottom of this post.
Follow the plumbline past the tilted hat…
revives in Escudero’s constant of the plumbline,
axis of the hairfine moon–his counter-camber of the skater.
No more fanatical adjuster
of the tilted hat
than Escudero; of tempos others can’t combine.
And we — besides evolving
the classic silhouette, Dick Button whittled slender–
have an Iberian-American champion yet,
the deadly Etchebaster. Entranced, were you not, by Soledad?
black-clad solitude that is not sad;
like a letter from
Casals; or perhaps say literal alphabet
S soundholes in a ‘cello
set contradictorily; or should we call her
la lagarta? or bamboos with fireflies a-glitter;
or glassy lake and the whorls which a vertical stroke brought about,
of the paddle half-turned coming out.
As if bisecting
a viper, she can dart down three times and recover
without a disaster, having
been a bull-fighter. Well; she has a forgiver.
Etchebaster’s art, his catlike ease, his mousing pose,
his genius for anticipatory tactics, preclude envy
as the traditional unwavy
is Escudero’s; the guitar, Rosario’s–
wrist-rest for a dangling hand
that’s suddenly set humming fast fast fast and faster.
There is no suitable simile. It is as though
the equidistant three tiny arcs of seeds in a banana
had been conjoined by Palestrina;
it is like the eyes,
of say the face of Palestrina by El Greco.
O Escudero, Soledad,
Rosario Escudero, Etchebaster!