A Jellyfish: Marianne Moore

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* “A Jellyfish” – Marianne Moore
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* How do punctuation and rhythm reinforce meaning in Moore’s “A Jellyfish”? *
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Marianne Moore’s “A Jellyfish”, displays how punctuation and rhythm can reinforce the overall meaning. The poem contains multiple messages and is deeply symbolic. The literal message is visualizing the jellyfish’s fluid movements through water. Also, its qualities can relate to the “[fluctuations]” (Moore 2) a person can endure in a lifetime. The rhythm of the poem has a free-flowing quality like a jellyfish would have when slinking through the water. Jellyfish move by a sudden push, then gliding motion. The gliding motion is portrayed through the middle of the poem, and the thrust by the beginning and end. When the speaker “inhabits it, your arm / approaches and it opens / and it closes; you had meant,” (Moore 4-5-6) it shows how enjambment can resemble the fluid movement of the jellyfish which we are observing. In the beginning when the speaker says “Visible, invisible,” (Moore 1) and in the end “you abandon your intent.” (Moore 8) are the only occurrences where the poem is not smooth. This is significant because it relates to choppy opening and closing propulsions of the jellyfish to move through the water. Moreover, an example of carefully placed punctuation is when the speaker stated, “[inhabited] it, your arm.”(Moore 4) The writer could have placed the comma elsewhere, or arranged the line so the pause would be at the end of the line, but clearly she wanted the reader to acknowledge the importance of punctuation. Details in “A Jellyfish” can easily be overlooked; however, after thorough analysis it is evident that the poems essence coincides with the rhythm and punctuation.
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