Acts of Containment: Marianne Moore, Joseph Cornell, and the Poetics of Enclosure

Falcetta, Jennie-Rebecca
June 2006
Journal of Modern Literature;Summer2006, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p124
Academic Journal
Marianne Moore and artist Joseph Cornell, most famous for his box constructions, shared a lively correspondence between 1943 and 1961. They also shared a similar working method of collection, selection, and containment, driven by moral impulses to enclose and preserve. The correspondence between them serves as a lens for examining thematic and formal similarities in artistic production, for example, the use of Egypt in Cornell's "L'Egypte de Mlle Cléo de Mérode cours élémentaire d'histoire naturelle" and in Moore's "The Jerboa." Furthermore, the letters reveal a mutual respect for and interest in one another's work, such as Cornell's responses to Moore's collection "Nevertheless"—in particular his praise of the anti-war poem "A Carriage From Sweden." The discussion culminates in an examination of Moore's animal poems in "What Are Years," linking "Half-Deity," inspired by the Monarch butterfly diorama at New York's American Museum of Natural History, to Cornell's "Habitat" series of the same period.


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