English Usage

(1963)

"English Usage" is the first song of Two by Marianne Moore.

The text of the song comes from the following poem by Marianne Moore:


"AVEC ARDEUR"
Dear Ezra, who knows what cadence is.


I've been thinking--mean, cogitating:


Make a fuss
and be tedious.


I'm annoyed?
Yes; am. I avoid


"adore"
and "bore";


am, I
say, by


the word
(bore) bored.


I refuse
to use


"divine"
to mean


something
pleasing:


"terrific color"
for some horror.


Though flat
myself, I'd say that


"Atlas"
(pressed glass)


looks best
embossed.


I refuse
to use


"enchant"
"dement";


even "fright-
ful plight"
(however justified)


or "frivol-
ous fool"
(however suitable).


I've escaped?
am still trapped


by these
word diseases.


No pauses,
the phrases


lack lyric
force;
sound caprick-like


Attic Afric
Alcaic


or freak
calico Greek.


(Not verse
of course)


I'm sure of this:


Nothing mundane is divine;
Nothing divine is mundane.


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