Treasure Island

Marianne Moore

(November 15, 1887 – February 5, 1972 / Kirkwood, Missouri)

Peter


Strong and slippery, built for the midnight grass-party confronted by four cats,
he sleeps his time away -- the detached first claw on his foreleg which corresponds
to the thumb, retracted to its tip; the small tuft of fronds
or katydid legs above each eye, still numbering the units in each group;
the shadbones regularly set about his mouth, to droop or rise

in unison like the porcupine's quills -- motionless. He lets himself be flat­
tened out by gravity, as it were a piece of seaweed tamed and weakened by
exposure to the sun; compelled when extended, to lie
stationary. Sleep is the result of his delusion that one must do as
well as one can for oneself; sleep -- epitome of what is to

him as to the average person, the end of life. Demonstrate on him how
the lady caught the dangerous southern snake, placing a forked stick on either
side of its innocuous neck; one need not try to stir
him up; his prune shaped head and alligator eyes are not a party to the
joke. Lifted and handled, he may be dangled like an eel or set

up on the forearm like a mouse; his eyes bisected by pupils of a pin's
width, are flickeringly exhibited, then covered up. May be? I should say,
might have been; when he has been got the better of in a
dream -- as in a fight with nature or with cats -- we all know it. Profound sleep is
not with him, a fixed illusion. Springing about with froglike ac­

curacy, emitting jerky cries when taken in the hand, he is himself
again; to sit caged by the rungs of a domestic chair would be unprofit­
able -- human. What is the good of hypocrisy? It
is permissible to choose one's employment, to abandon the wire nail, the
roly-poly, when it shows signs of being no longer a pleas­

ure, to score the adjacent magazine with a double line of strokes. He can
talk, but insolently says nothing. What of it? When one is frank, one's very
presence is a compliment. It is clear that he can see
the virtue of naturalness, that he is one of those who do not regard
the published fact as a surrender. As for the disposition

invariably to affront, an animal with claws wants to have to use
them; that eel-like extension of trunk into tail is not an accident. To
leap, to lengthen out, divide the air -- to purloin, to pursue.
to tell the hen: fly over the fence, go in the wrong way -- in your perturba­
tion -- this is life; to do less would be nothing but dishonesty.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: animal, sleep, snake, nature, dream, sun, cat, rose, spring

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Peter by Marianne Moore )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 1 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou

New Poems

  1. A Bench on the Hike, Mae AC.
  2. For the family, hasmukh amathalal
  3. Dilli ki sadak (Hindi), S.D. TIWARI
  4. Nilife, FOEVERAMI JOHNSON
  5. Two sides of coin, hasmukh amathalal
  6. For You, Kewayne Wadley
  7. Muskuraanaa Sikho//Hindi, Aftab Alam
  8. How Good To Be Alive, Shalom Freedman
  9. His Smile You'll Recognize, Susan Lacovara
  10. Lead Feather, Joshua Riles

Poem of the Day

poet Helen Hunt Jackson

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]