Moore, Marianne. The Poems of Marianne Moore. Ed. Grace Schulman. New York: Penguin, 2003.
One of Marianne Moore's most famous poems, "Poetry," underwent radical revision over the course of its publication history, appearing first in Alfred Kreymborg's little magazine Others at thirty lines, in the spacing standard for Moore's syllabic poems. When the poem appears for the fifth time in the second edition of Moore's first volume of poetry, Observations, the lines hug the left margin and thirteen of them remain. Tinkering with the poem her entire life, the last authorized version appears in the 1967 Complete Poems and takes up a mere three lines. In between the poem swelled and shrank, complicating the question of whether any version ought to be considered authortative. Given that "Poetry" falls within the subgenre of the ars poetica, an account of quotation in Moore's poetics owes special attention to the quotations that appear in this poem. According to Moore's endnotes, "Poetry" quotes at least Tolstoy and Yeats, the latter of which would have fallen outside the public domain. Moore acknowledges Yeats, but she also rewrites him, leaving the status of the acknowledgement unclear.
The poem's most enduring phrase - "imaginary gardens with real toads / in them" - serves two important roles. First, it models what poetry can offer. Second, the phrase acquires quotation marks when it appears in Moore's Collected Poems, prompting the reader to identify it as an unattributed quotation. How does the poem justify Moore's acts of quotation? Might it also justify mis- and unattributed quotations? And how are these three types of quotation akin to sampling? An examination of one of Moore's most quotation-heavy poems, "The Octopus," reveals the same strange vacillation between acknowledgement and submergence. Moore often quotes for the felicity of the expression, rather than the idea expressed - how did she imagine quotation, and why did she represent the practice so eccentrically?