Sojourn in the Whale
Trying to open locked doors with a sword, threading the points of needles, planting shade trees upside down; swallowed by the opaqueness of one whom the seas love better than they love you, Ireland— you have lived and lived on every kind of shortage. You have been compelled by hags to spin gold thread from straw and have heard men say: "There is a feminine temperament in direct contrast to ours, which makes her do these things. Circumscribed by a heritage of blindness and native incompetence, she will become wise and will be forced to give in. Compelled by experience, she will turn back; water seeks its own level"; and you have smiled. "Water in motion is far from level." You have seen it, when obstacles happened to bar the path, rise automatically.
First published in Others (1917). This poem is in the public domain.
Born in 1887, Marianne Moore wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other Modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise
Date Published: 1917-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/sojourn-whale