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"Spenser's Ireland" makes no direct reference to the subject of "Sojourn in the Whale," but it portrays an even more subtle and evasive power. The poem concludes with its speaker's admission that "I am troubled, I'm dissatisfied, I'm Irish," but it has already offered a solution to the alleged dissatisfaction by portraying freedom and success as states of mind rather than as action. We learn, for instance, that dull perseverance which

        again and again says, "I'll never give in," never sees

that you're not free     until you've been made captive by      supreme belief

If the eccentricities of Ireland thus seem merely fussy--and Moore's language itself is deliberately fussy when making the point--she has her own suggestion for a method of escape:

                                    Erie-- the guillemot     so neat and the hen of the heath and the linnet spinet-sweet--bespeak restlessness? Then they are to me     like enchanted Earl Gerald who     changed himself into a stag, to  a great green-eyed cat of  the mountain. Discommodity makes      them invisible; they've dis- appeared.

"Spenser's Ireland" thus shows that imagination offers escape both from discouragement and, on a whim, from discommodity.


From Marianne Moore: Subversive Modernist. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. Copyright © 1986 by Uviversity of Texas Press.