24 September 2013

An Ant Can't

"It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants.  What are you industrious about?"  Thoreau, in a letter to a friend.


Critics and Connoisseurs
By Marianne Moore

There is a great amount of poetry in unconscious
   fastidiousness. Certain Ming
      products, imperial floor coverings of coach—
   wheel yellow, are well enough in their way but I have seen something
         that I like better—a
            mere childish attempt to make an imperfectly ballasted animal stand up
            similar determination to make a pup
               eat his meat from the plate.

I remember a swan under the willows in Oxford,
   with flamingo-colored, maple—
      leaflike feet. It reconnoitered like a battle
   ship. Disbelief and conscious fastidiousness were
         ingredients in its
            disinclination to move. Finally its hardihood was not proof against its
            proclivity to more fully appraise such bits
               of food as the stream

bore counter to it; made away with what I gave it
   to eat. I have seen this swan and
      I have seen you; I have seen ambition without
   understanding in a variety of forms. Happening to stand
         by an ant-hill, I have
            seen a fastidious ant carrying a stick north, south, east, west, till it turned on
            itself, struck out from the flower bed into the lawn,
               and returned to the point

from which it had started. Then abandoning the stick as
   useless and overtaxing its
      jaws with a particle of whitewash pill-like but
   heavy, it again went through the same course of procedure. What is
         there in being able
            to say that one has dominated the stream in an attitude of self-defense,
            in proving that one has had the experience
               of carrying a stick?

No comments:

Post a Comment