First Draft, Intro
12 November 2001
The Institution of Marriage: An Anthology from Marianne Moore
“MARRIAGE is not an expression of my philosophy -- merely a little
anthology of phrases that I did not want to lose.”
-- Marianne Moore (letter dated 25 May 1964,
reprinted Spring 1979 by Patricia Willis in the
Marianne Moore Newsletter, 3.11)
Marianne Moore never perceived she could, or should, force her own views onto the world with her verse. In fact, it is often difficult for readers to extrapolate any exact meaning from the verbal renderings of her subjects. Her goal is to present reality to her readers in a way that made them question what Reality exactly is. There are so many aspects of life that human beings believe have only one truth because of social conformity of individual views. Moore uses language to tell “the truths (not merely the truth) about reality. [. . .] Moore [is], it would seem, content to live with contradiction, paradox, ambiguity, intuition, ecstasy, and magic because those [are] far closer to the truth than anyone else’s abstract precision” (Erickson 2). For her, it is essential to contemplate an inclusive world view of an issue, an idea, or a thing, before one can understand fully. Ironically, because she believes “human access to truth has many avenues, many voices” (Erickson 3), one never completely knows anything; she can only know experiences of them to piece together into a more complete, though still incomplete, “definition.” Reality is, therefore, an illusion humans build out of fragmented ideas. What is held to be true is only a manipulated part of a whole, to individual to know completely by all.
Moore’s most intricate method of revealing this perception is by collecting several representations and observations of her subject and molding them into poetic verse. One can see in her work the influence of Cubism’s changing perspectives and metaphorical impressions. “Moore’s words call up layers of ideas and images from literary history to linguistic X rays as they reinforce the inclusiveness of her meaning” (Erickson 68). This technique gives the poem Marriage its depth, its beauty, and its multiplicity. She recalls the literary, social history of marriage in “sound bytes” and presents it alongside exotic images and a quiet wit. The result is a close look at what marriage is, historically, individually, and socially.
 quoted from Erickson, 93.