Historical Context in Poetry
Marianne Moore’s work uses many modernist elements, incorporating quotes from other works and presenting concise language capable of suggesting a myriad of images or ideas. In “Poetry,” she paraphrases a quotation from William Butler Yeats: “‘a literalist of the imagination.’” In the poem’s most famous line, Moore urges poets to create “‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them,’” a phrase of her own invention which, oddly enough, she quotes. Moore first published “Poetry” in 1919 but revised it countless times over the span of five decades. In 1967, she controversially reduced it to merely three lines.