Marianne Moore

The Monkeys

winked too much and were afraid of snakes. The zebras, supreme in
their abnormality; the elephants with their frog-colored skin
	and strictly practical appendages
		were there, the small cats; and the parakeet—
		trivial and humdrum on examination, destroying 
		bark and portions of the food it could not eat.

I recall their magnificence, now not more magnificent
than it is dim. It is difficult to recall the ornament,
	speech, and precise manner of what one might
		call the minor acquaintances twenty
			years back; but I shall not forget him—that Gilgamesh among
		the hairy carnivora—that cat with the

wedge-shaped, slate-gray marks on its forelegs and the resolute tail,
astringently remarking, “They have imposed on us with their pale
	half-fledged protestations, trembling about
		in inarticulate frenzy, saying
			it is not for us to understand art; finding it
		all so difficult, examining the thing

as if it were inconceivably arcanic, as symmet-
rically frigid as if it had been carved out of chrysoprase
	or marble—strict with tension, malignant
		in its power over us and deeper
				than the sea when it proffers flattery in exchange for hemp,
		rye, flax, horses, platinum, timber, and fur.”