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The Steeple-Jack Analysis

Author: Poetry of Marianne Moore Type: Poetry Views: 395

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Dürer would have seen a reason for livingin a town like this, with eight stranded whales

to look at; with the sweet sea air coming into your house

on a fine day, from water etchedwith waves as formal as the scales

on a fish.One by one in two's and three's, the seagulls keepflying back and forth over the town clock,

or sailing around the lighthouse without moving their wings --

rising steadily with a slightquiver of the body -- or flock

mewing wherea sea the purple of the peacock's neck ispaled to greenish azure as Dürer changed

the pine green of the Tyrol to peacock blue and guinea

gray. You can see a twenty-five-pound lobster; and fish nets arranged

to dry. Thewhirlwind fife-and-drum of the storm bends the saltmarsh grass, disturbs stars in the sky and the

star on the steeple; it is a privilege to see so

much confusion. Disguised by whatmight seem the opposite, the sea-

side flowers andtrees are favored by the fog so that you havethe tropics first hand: the trumpet-vine,

fox-glove, giant snap-dragon, a salpiglossis that has

spots and stripes; morning-glories, gourds,or moon-vines trained on fishing-twine

at the back door;cat-tails, flags, blueberries and spiderwort,striped grass, lichens, sunflowers, asters, daisies --

yellow and crab-claw ragged sailors with green bracts -- toad-plant,petunias, ferns; pink lilies, blueones, tigers; poppies; black sweet-peas.

The climateis not right for the banyan, frangipani, orjack-fruit trees; or for exotic serpent

life. Ring lizard and snake-skin for the foot, if you see fit;

but here they've cats, not cobras, tokeep down the rats. The diffident

little newtwith white pin-dots on black horizontal spaced-out bands lives here; yet there is nothing that

ambition can buy or take away. The college student

named Ambrose sits on the hillsidewith his not-native books and hat

and sees boatsat sea progress white and rigid as if ina groove. Liking an elegance of which

the sourch is not bravado, he knows by heart the antique

sugar-bowl shaped summer-house ofinterlacing slats, and the pitch

of the churchspire, not true, from which a man in scarlet letsdown a rope as a spider spins a thread;

he might be part of a novel, but on the sidewalk a

sign says C. J. Poole, Steeple Jack,in black and white; and one in red

and white saysDanger. The church portico has four flutedcolumns, each a single piece of stone, made

modester by white-wash. Theis would be a fit haven for

waifs, children, animals, prisoners,and presidents who have repaid

sin-drivensenators by not thinking about them. Theplace has a school-house, a post-office in a

store, fish-houses, hen-houses, a three-masted schooner on

the stocks. The hero, the student,the steeple-jack, each in his way,

is at home.It could not be dangerous to be livingin a town like this, of simple people,

who have a steeple-jack placing danger signs by the church

while he is gilding the solid-pointed star, which on a steeple

stands for hope.


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