What Are Years Marianne Moore

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If a picture can paint a thousand words, certainly a word could paint a thousand pictures. This is what poet Marianne Moore accomplishes with chosen words in her poem. Words that create specific pictures that provide the reader with an insight into her thoughts. However, her pictures are not pleasant and encouraging images. On the contrary, in the poem “What Are Years?” Moore utilizes negative and demoralizing imagery to reveal her pessimism and belief of mankind’s declining morality.
In the first stanza of the poem, Moore immediately creates in the first few lines a negative image of mankind as being “naked” and “none is safe.” She doesn’t exclude any one from this grim situation, but instead refers to “All” humans as being targeted. No one can escape. She questions what we have become, believing our “innocence” and “guilt” are so entangled we then cannot tell right from wrong. Right and wrong have become one in man as she writes, “What is our innocence/what is our guilt?” Moore also questions where has mankind’s courage gone by wondering “And whence is courage: the unanswered question...” She views mankind as losing its
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However, here Moore substitutes the image of the sea trapped in a chasm with a bird that is trapped in a cage, She writes, “ The very bird /grown taller as he sings, steels/his form straight up. Though he is captive.” She adds that even though the bird does “sing” while trapped and expands its “form" in its narrow confinement, which might suggest that the bird is content, she dashes that hope with her pessimism by stating, “ …his mighty singing says, satisfaction is a lowly /thing. How pure a thing is joy.” Moore wants the reader to know the bird will never experience the “joy” no matter how it tries or “straightens” in its confines for it has decided to settle for mere “satisfaction.” To her nothing less than experiencing joy, is

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