Marianne Moore

The Mind, Intractable Thing

	even with its own ax to grind, sometimes
		helps others. Why can’t it help me?

			O imagnifico,
wizard in words—poet, was it, as
Alfredo Panzini defined you?
Weren’t you refracting just now
on my eye’s half-closed triptych
		the image, enhanced, or a glen—
“the foxgrape festoon as sere leaves fell”
on the sand-pale dark byrod, one leaf adrift
		from the thin-twigged persimmon; again,

			a bird—Arizona 
caught-up-with, uncatchable cuckoo
after two hours’ pursuit, zigzagging
road-runner, stenciled in black
stripes all over, the tail
		windmilling up to defy me?
You understand terror, know how to deal
with pent-up emotion, a ballad, witchcraft.
		I don’t. O Zeus and O Destiny!

Unafraid of what’s done,
undeterred by apparent defeat,
you, imagnifico, unafraid
of disparagers, death, dejection,
have out-wiled the Mermaid of Zennor,
		made wordcraft irresistible:
reef, wreck, lost lad, and “Sea-foundered bell”—
		craft with which I don’t know how to deal.