POETRY: Blessed Is The Man, by Marianne Moore

Blessed Is The Man Marianne Moore

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

who does not sit in the seat of the scoffer—
the man who does not denigrate, depreciate, denunciate;
who is not “characteristically intemperate,”
who does not “excuse, retreat, equivocate; and will be heard.”

(Ah, Giorgione! there are those who mongrelize
and those who heighten anything they touch; although it may well be
that if Giorgione’s self-portrait were not said to be he,
it might not take my fancy. Blessed the geniuses who know

that egomania is not a duty.)
“Diversity, controversy; tolerance”—that “citadel
of learning” we have a fort that ought to armor us well.
Blessed is the man who “takes the risk of a decision”—asks

himself the question: “Would it solve the problem?
Is it right as I see it? Is it in the best interests of all?”
Alas. Ulysses’s companions are now political—
living self-indulgently until the moral sense is drowned,

having lost all power of comparison,
thinking license emancipates one, “slaves who they themselves have bound.”
Brazen authors, downright soiled and downright spoiled, as if sound
and exceptional, are the old quasi-modish counterfeit,

mitin-proofing conscience against character.
Affronted by “private lies and public shame,” blessed is the author
who favors what the supercilious do not favor—
who will not comply. Blessed the unaccommodating man.

Blessed the man whose faith is different
from possessiveness—of a kind not framed by “things which do appear”—
who will not visualize defeat, too intent to cower;
whose illumined eye has seen the shaft that gilds the sultan’s tower.

 

[mitin: (From la mite, mothe). Odorless, nontoxic product of Geigy Chemical Corporation research scientists  (Swiss).]

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