English 619:002 / Spring 2004 / Susan Tichy / George Mason Univers/ity / Mondays 4:30-7:10


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Leonard Diepeveen's Changing Voices


Back to CVC Week 8

From Leonard Diepeveen's Changing Voices: The Modern Quoting Poem. University of Michigan Press, 1993.
Changing Voices looks at the consequences of those instances in Modern American poetry when a poet chooses not to allude to another text, but to quote it: to exactly duplicate a source, and in so doing to write those awkward and powerful texts that this book will classify as the Modern quoting poem. (vii)
I created these notes originally as a way to digest and pass on Diepeveen's work as it applies to the poems of Marianne Moore. Diepeveen specifically does not organize his arguments into separate chapters on the work of his subject poets (Pound, Eliot, Moore & Cummings). He is interested not in oeuvre studies but in the methodology of the quoting poem and its consequences; thus his chapters delineate structural and affective questions, culminating in a chapter on poetic voice in the quoting poem. Whether your interest is in quotation, per se, in these four poets, or in Modernism more broadly defined, I highly recommend this book. During this course, it will be housed at the Johnson Center Reserve Desk, designated for one-week circulation.

In the notes below, passages indented or in quotation marks are Diepeveen’s words. Bracketed passages are my elaborations. The rest is my paraphrase / commentary on Diepeveen. Page numbers are in parentheses.          

Quoting Arts  /  Structure of Quotations /  Shock of the Exact  /  Voice  

“A good stealer is ipso facto a good inventor.”
-- Marianne Moore, notebook entry (Moore Archive, 1250/1, 118; quoted p2)
In Chapter One: The Quoting Arts  Diepeveen defines “quoting poems” as those that
incorporate phrases that precisely duplicate the verbal patterns of the original source, stealing for the new poem the conceptual content and the texture of a previously existing text. Quoting poems do not transform to suit their purposes the words of the text from which they borrow; they duplicate the intrusive textural, material properties of another text. (2, emphasis his)
Texture is an important word for Diepeveen’s arguments, for
[i]n their stealing from other texts, quoting poems do not initially receive the impetus for their energies from a paraphrasable, interchangeable conceptual content (such as plot, theme, or imagery) of that other text....In our reading experience of quoting poems the formal properties of the quotation precede and define their conceptual content, showing that the quotation is indeed unparaphrasable. Texture asserts the idiosyncratic rather than the interchangeable. Texture does not just define the sounds of a group of words, it has consequences. It shows how these sounds point to and are part of those words’ individual, nonparaphrasable meanings. Texture also implies a quotation’s history, its past, “original” use and this original use’s earlier appropriations by culture. (2-3)
[This is a crucial observation. It defines the precise difference between quotation and allusion and in the same stroke demonstrates why quoting poets use nonparaphrased, nonparaphrasable material. The question is not simply the paraphrasability (or lack thereof) of the content of source words; the question is their physical, material presence. And their physical, material presence is required because it is part of the words’ meanings. Notice that “meaning” here does not equal content, but something closer to what Charles Bernstein calls the “meaning complex” of a text, made up of all its elements, including form.]

This is Diepeveen’s greatest difference from other studies of quotation, appropriation, intertextuality, and allusion. He is not concerned, as they are, with “the place the borrowing has in the conceptual content of the original text and the new conceptual function it has in the borrowing text.” Such studies generally do not distinguish between quotation and allusion. Diepeveen not only distinguishes: he bases his argument on the difference between them, “a difference signaled by the formal signs of an alien texture.” (4)

He then quotes Derrida:
Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic, spoke or written...can be cited, put between quotation marks; in so doing it can break with every given context, engendering an infinity of new contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable. This does not imply that the mark is valid outside of a context, but on the contrary that there are only contexts without any center or absolute anchoring [anchrage]. This citationality, this duplication or duplicity, this iterability of the mark is neither an accident nor an anomaly, it is that (normal/abnormal) without which a mark could not even have a function called “normal.” What would a mark be that could not be cited? Or one whose origins would not get lost along the way?   (5, ellipsis mine
Diepeveen’s project, however, is to examine a particular type of citation. He is not interested in how meanings are limitless, but in “how writers attempt to control meaning.”
The forms of this control can be seen as the underlying subject of this book. As the quoting poem shows, the act of quoting is incredibly directed: any signal of a quotation redirects the reader’s attention. (5)
Unlike Derrida’s “citation”, Diepeveen’s “quotation” is distinguished from allusion and is highly specific. More useful to his argument is Bakhtin on monologic and diologic discourse. Though Bakhtin more or less uses “poetry” as a code word for “monologic,” his concept of heteroglossia (defined as “another’s speech in another’s language”) is important in relation to poetic voice in a quoting poem.  (6; see also p17)

Diepeveen then further defines his own project by setting up a “continuum of textual appropriation” between “quotation” and “allusion.” Points on the continuum can range from
exact copying, to mixing one’s own words into the stolen, to borrowing not the words but their conceptual content. Intertextual borrowing can occupy a point anywhere along this line. Further, all borrowings, whether the pure allusion or the exact quotation, always have resonance from either extreme... Quoting (and, by implication, allusion) is a mongrel technique. (7)
He uses a passage of Eliot to discuss the variations, in the midst of which he tells us that quotation originally meant “to mark the number of”, while allusion meant “to play with.”(11) Then, after a detailed discussion of interpretive and aesthetic questions raised by the Eliot passage, catalogues the ways we recognize quotations. We may recognize the quote as such without the help of graphic markers (e.g. “London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down” in “The Waste Land”). We may be told by notes the poet appends to the poem. We may have to take it on faith: we’ve never seen the words before, but they appear in quotation marks, so we take them as quotation.

From a reader’s point of view, all these forms of recognition work, and make quotation functional, because “[q]uotation marks, even when not enclosing an actual quotation, always signal the appropriation of another voice or speech with which the author does not completely want to identify, as when someone apologizes for using a cliché by enclosing it in quotation marks.” (15) And because
All quoting...exploits an alien texture, whether such texture be real or imagined. When a work of art quotes, the emphasis upon a “paraphrasable,” nontextural world fades. The duplicatable formal properties of a world of texts become the first cause in the aesthetic equation, the elements from which readers take their cue on how to handle the quotation’s conceptual properties....As we shall see in Chapter 4 [on poetic voice] quoting has varying ideological agendas, but all such agendas result from quoting’s formalist presupposition: disruption is based upon texture, upon certain formal characteristics of a work. (15-16)
In the last section of this chapter, Diepeveen provides an introduction to Moore’s use of quotation. Late in her career Moore wrote, “Odd as it may seem that a few words of overwhelming urgency should be a mosaic of quotation, why paraphrase what for maximum impact should be quoted verbatim?” (“Idiosyncrasy and Technique”) At the same time, she ensured in her notes to the poems that we would not know any quotation’s original function: she names the source, but her sources being almost universally obscure, readers are unable to determine context or recreate “the quotation’s place in its original world.” Indeed, her notes often do little more than “convince persuadable readers that this is indeed a quotation.” (19)
The quotation’s original function remains unknown because it is unimportant (although the fact that it is unknown is important); quotations do not have an authority of origin in her poetry. Moore does not quote to place herself in a prestigious literary tradition, to gain admittance to a select club. The quotation is crucial, but readers know only its texture and isolated conceptual content, and not any other of the claims that it theoretically could load upon the poem.  As a result, the quotations in her poetry become cyphers of mysterious import, clearly asserting only their own alienness. The texture of Moore’s quotations have a primarily negative function: at the center of these quotations, at  least, one does not find the poet’s voice. Quotations allow Moore to hide the identity and the texture of the new poem’s voice. (19-20)

Diepeveen’s Chapter Two: The Structure of Quotations introduces the structural elements of quotation, all of which are predicated on the idea of “the gap.”

Quotations establish a difference from their surrounding text & thus create a crucial rhythm to our reading process. All quoting poems introduce a two-stepped reading process as the quoting and the quoted texts “bump worlds.” A quotation that is physically marked off in any way (quotation marks, italics, indentation, white space, etc.) makes a separate visual unit. Diepeveen discusses normative “gaps” in poetry (such as line breaks, syntactic breaks or turns, punctuated transitions) and the more disjunctive gaps typical of Modernism, some of which lean toward quotation’s textural disruption. [And some of which might qualify as “collage” in other readers’ critical vocabularies.] Diepeveen argues that quotation’s disruption is qualitatively different, partly because it can simply appear, “syntactically unannounced but visually disruptive.” (26)

When quotations are absorbed syntactically by the framing poem, a reader must deal with simultaneous contradictory signals: quotation marks announce “a new presence of a dubious nature” while the smooth syntax denies such a presence. This “relational incongruity” structures our reading, which is further complicated when the quoted material contains its own structure--for example, its own metaphoric structure. How, as readers, do we read this metaphor as both in the poem and of some other context? Must we be nervous about violating some original function of the quoted phrases? (39)

[This aspect of quotation ties it to visual collage and, in some poems, to Cubism. Quotations in Diepeveen’s sense are not dialogue, attributed to characters speaking in a poem, but simply pieces of text, sequences of quoted words, that are glued into the discourse of the quoting poem as a piece of newspaper might be glued onto a canvas. Sometimes the quoted words are absorbed into a logical or descriptive discourse of the quoting poem; sometimes not. Sometimes they may be partially absorbed, relating to the content of the quoting poem via one element, but resisting via others--as when a piece of cut newspaper in a Picasso collage takes on the shape of a bowl holding three images of pears, but also remains a piece of (readable) newspaper.]

“Since the text does not do it,” Diepeveen argues, “readers themselves must acknowledge and find a use for the gap between the poems’ different textures and conceptual strategies...” even when (as often in Moore) the poem writes over its transitions and thus does not seem to be overtly structured on gaps. Even when quotation marks are virtually all that set off the language of the quotation readers will “see” a different voice and begin to attribute characteristics to it. This is made more acute because
readers tend to create a unified mass from the remaining, nonquoting texture of the poem. And...the gap is silent: we don’t know why Moore quotes certain phrases...but all this silent and unaccountable difference gives the gaps a function--a quirkily disarming one, perhaps, but one that helps create the tone of Moore’s poetry and deflect the poem from a too-comfortable status as an artifact of high art. (28)
Diepeveen quotes Margorie Perloff on collage, then parallels her statements to Pound’s sculptural model of poetry: “One uses form as a musician uses sound. One does not imitate the wood dove, or at least one does not confine oneself to the imitation of wood-doves, one combines and arranges one’s sound or one’s forms into Bach fugues or into arrangements of colour, or into ‘planes in relation.” (Pound quoted 31-32) This implies a nonmimetic art, and also an art in which readers must actively construct relationships between “planes” as they read. Of course, all reading, especially of Modernism, may be said to do this, but a quoting poem accentuates such relations.

These lines of reasoning lead Diepeveen to one of (Modern) poetry’s conundrums--how can we reconcile affects of artistic instantaneousness (implicit in all sculptural metaphors for form) with the essentially temporal nature of not only narrative and argument but language itself: one word follows another, and any affects of simultaneity must be created with that paradox. (35) Despite the efficacy of spatial metaphors, temporal progress is the essence of reading, present and even accentuated in poems for which a reader must construct meaning across gaps: such poems “foreground reading as a strenuous process.” (36)
Since the gap [in a quoting poem] is silent, readers need to base the relations they construct on some underlying principles, principles that account for the jarring interaction between quotation and the new text. Readers must supply information to make the quoting text behave like a less disjunctive text--in effect, to give the text coherence. Therefore, in addition to noticing simply that a new world has been fused into the poem, readers attribute qualities to this new world; they attempt to discover its relevant stylistic and other values. (41)
From this statement, Diepeveen launches into a reading of quotation at the start of Moore’s “An Octopus,” where the obvious creation of a metaphor for the glacier, in the title/first line, is followed by increasing confusion re: what the poem is actually about. Quotations keep arriving, and keep redefining the subject. Some quotes elaborate the octopus metaphor to a point where one begins to believe the octopus is, after all, central. Moore’s notes to the poem do nothing to help a reader decide, as Diepeveen puts it, which values of the quotations are most relevant and important to the poem. We are thrown back on evaluating such qualities as “affirmation” or “negation” among the poem’s various quotations--concluding, he argues, that values such as “animated, animal-like activity” and “spooky grandeur” are values shared by both quoted and “original” lines. He quotes John Slatin calling the quotations “lenses” which “distort” our view of the mountain [as if there is an “undistorted” view waiting somewhere to be found? ST] so that “in the course of the poem we see both the mountain and the problem of seeing the mountain from a number of different vantage points.” [Emphasis Slatin’s, presumably.] Diepeveen asserts something further, however: that such distortion is elemental to quotation, and that part of the pleasure of reading the poem comes from “witnessing how the poet manipulates and relates all this material toward a single purpose.” (43-44)

[Though I understand Diepeveen’s point about the pleasure of Moore’s performance, I question the embedded statement--that there is a “single purpose” to “An Octopus.” If I were compelled to say there is one, I might use Slatin’s words to state what it is: the problem of seeing the mountain.]

Chapter Three: “The Shock of the Exact” takes on the question of “originality” in the quoting poem -- always an obsession in American literature.
Quotation marks ensure that readers are aware of two struggling forces: the quotations’ previous existence and something of the quoting poet’s hold over the quotation. But the gaps in the most disjunctive quoting poems [Diepeveen doesn’t include Moore in this category] don’t give readers a clear sense of the poet’s allegiances to the quotations and readers’ ambivalences about the originality of the quoting poem is an ambivalence about these allegiances, about the poet’s choice of and attitude towards the quotations; in short, an ambivalence about how the quoting poem’s gaps function. (50)
Quoting Emerson (“I hate quotation.”), Edmond Wilson (The Waste Land lacks “structural unity”), and William Carlos Williams, Diepeveen begins a discussion about American (and avant-garde) anxiety about originality, the correct relationship to antecedents, American language, autonomy of the poem, and the political implications of using/remaking the forms of the past. He argues that all quoting poets believe in some form of universality. For Pound and Eliot, it takes the form of an ideology about the past. For Moore and Cummings it takes the form of “transformation.” (50-64)

[I read his use of ‘transformation” as a free-floating equality of sources tied, presumably, to texture more than to content. “Transformation” as a value seems to be empowered by--or perhaps to be--the artist’s universal and universalizing ability to make any material function abstractly--that is, to find in it some quality (texture Diepeveen might say) that allows its transformation from a content-and-context-bound “original” function to a new position that both retains and transcends its origins. This seems a kind of “materiality” like that described by Stauder in her discussion of abstraction in Loy & Brancusi: a “contingency” that remains in dialectical relationship to its own form. One could as easily reverse the terms and call it “the artist’s universal and universalizing inability to create an abstraction that is not composed of matter.” Stauder posits this as anti-Platonic, and as a kind of spiritual essence at the heart of poetic abstraction. I see the same essence in the structural contingency of Moore’s quoting poems, which create abstraction out of the dialogue among competing, concrete elements.]

Creating a Canon

Here Diepeveen argues that Moore (in common with Cummings) used her canon of quotations exclusively “to expand the subject matter of poetry, not to promote individual texts” (as Pound and Eliot did). Moore, he says, opens poetry to “new classes of expression.” Because her sources are more or less contemporary with the poem she is making, and because she doesn’t depend on “contrasting the quotation’s original rhetorical function with its function in the new setting,” and because her quotations “only marginally impinge on the social world of the reader,” Diepeveen argues that her “canon formation” of quoted sources creates a different order of self-expression from that created by other poets. Moore’s cavalier attitude toward her own originality (hiding her alterations of quotes, for example, and continually repudiating her own artist status) leave her forms of expression open to reductive readings as “mere” idiosyncrasy, without political or other import beyond personal predilection (67)

[This argument seems to swim all around the point, and yet miss it. Since shortly thereafter Diepeveen pointedly excludes Moore from a list of poets whose poems provide “commentary on contemporary culture,” one is forced to wonder just what he thinks her “charming”, “idiosyncratic”, and “personal” poems are for.

[“Any canon of sources creates new meanings by using the poet’s and the reader’s cultural repertoire,” he says (68), but he never examines Moore’s sources (or even her source genres) in terms of “cultural repertoire.” Hers seems to me to be a canon of sources that says to a reader: “You have the necessary materials at your fingertips.” Where Eliot’s notes to “The Waste Land” exist to “make clear to readers the club to which Eliot does, and to which the reader may not belong”(70), Moore’s exist to make clear that the only “club” is one of perception, not education or access. Where Pound’s and Eliot’s poems make readers see their quoted material for the first time as “alive” and “part of an important tradition,” Moore’s poems are said to make readers see her quoted material for the first time “as poetry.” (70) Access to the materials of poetry is utterly democratic in Moore, though the ability to find poetry in those materials never is. Thus her quoting poems are underwritten by a definition of culture and a definition of the poetic act that is fundamentally different from that identified in Pound and Eliot. Her high art elitism, if that’s what it is, is not founded on a relation to the past, access to education (a “cultural repertoire” of high art texts), or a publicly perceived role as cultural interpreter; instead, it is founded on an individual relationship to language and to the act of making (though she would call it selecting). Her “commentary on contemporary culture” is constructed of materials found in contemporary culture itself, materials which then “speak” back to us through Moore’s voice within the quoting poem.

[That these are strategies specifically related to gender, and to the various positions available to “women poets” of Moore’s generation is fundamental to understanding. It’s ironic that Diepeveen, so brilliant on form, is unable to see poems as “social” unless they are made of pre-approved “social” ingredients. I find it perplexing that he is unable to see “social commentary” in the making of the forms themselves, the “transformation” Moore performs on the mundane, her constant hectoring toward “right perception,” or the positioning of a female speaker in the dense camouflage of “the ordinary.” What is his definition of “social” if these do not apply?]

New Metaphors
The concrete elements in [quoting] poems occur as the accidents of particular texts, but they also hint that there is something inherently concrete and sensuous about quotations. ...[Q]uotations must always first recreate the physical voice of another physical text before they can use its abstract content. Either the quotation marks or readers’ knowledge of the quotation as quotation ensure this primacy, even when nothing of the quotation is known. Even when the quotation functions as part of readers’ cultural repertoire, readers’ knowledge of the quotation as quotation inevitably occurs as a result of the quotation’s sensuous properties (diction, language, meter) rather than its conceptual content. This knowledge of the quotation as quotation separates the quotation from the quoting text and further highlights its sensuous properties. Delimited by various means, quotations are objects within the poem--they have a separate existence apart from the poem’s rhetoric, and just as the poem as an art object emphasizes its sensuous properties, so does the quotation. 77
The level of concreteness is not always the same--Pound uses techniques, for example, that insist more strongly than Moore does on the quotation’s concrete properties. Diepeveen says of “In This Age of Hard Trying,” for example--

“Taller by the length of
    a conversation of five hundred years than all
        the others,” there was one, whose tales
            of what could never have been actual--
     were better than the haggish, uncompanionable drawl

of certitude; his by-
    play was more terrible in its effectiveness
        than the fiercest frontal attack.
            The staff, the bag, the feigned inconsequence           
of manner, best bespeak that weapon, self-protectiveness.
Since the quotation doesn’t introduce a noticeable disjunction of meter, syntax, or diction, and since the rest of the poem takes up the possible disjunction of image (the quotation’s topic) and ties it to the rhetorical strategy of the poem, the quoting poem’s rhetorical structure overruns the quotation. In the case of this poem, the overrunning is quite complete. Because the poem establishes a new world that comfortably encloses the quotation’s world, the quotation’s imagery fits in with the poem, as does its rhetoric. No knowledge of the source exists to allow properties outside of the snippet just quoted to interfere with the new world of the poem. Indeed, only the original voice (signaled by the quotation marks, the peculiar content of the metaphor within the quotation, and a few qualities of the diction) resists the world of the new poem. As a result, in these lines the metaphoric structure and concrete resistance of this quoting poem is small, with little stretching required to fit the quoting poem’s world over the quotation.
Why are poets interested in the quoting poem’s metaphor structure? For the same reason that  Pound was (mistakenly) excited about the ideogram: he believed that the ideogram combined pictures of objects in order to make an abstraction. Pound argued that Chinese writing put together the pictures for rose, iron rust, cherry, and flamingo to make the concept “red.” The virtues for poetry are clear... Those writers who quote ensure that they stay in contact with concrete objects. As do metaphors, quotations allow poets to avoid overworked or hackneyed language often found in abstractions... and to create a new poetic language. 79-80
[What Diepeveen does not mention here is metonymy. Definitions of metonymy generally limit it to the passive function of referring to an unnamed thing by mentioning something with which it is associated, as when presidential statements are prefaced with “the White House said today...” Active metonymy, however, is a mode of perception in which an unnamed meaning is defined or even created by the association of images, statements, and sound textures. (Not all juxtapositions, lists, or catalogues create metonymy: a list of heros standing for the unnamed concept of “hero,” for example, is not metonymy, nor is a list like “rust, cherry, flamingo,” in which we look for the common denominator and come up with “red.”) Metonymy is, fundamentally a mode of expression that resists paraphrase by cleaving to the concrete. Quoting poems may be metonymic, particularly when, as Diepeveen puts it, readers cannot tell which quality(ies) of the quotations are “important” and therefore cannot reduce their relations to paraphrase. Diepeveen’s idea of texture is important here, for meaning can be created metonymically by the association of the various textures of quoted and quoting language. The more complex are relations among quotations and among quoted and nonquoted language, the more these relations cross levels of content and form, the more the poem’s meanings remain metonymic. Unlike metaphor, metonymy does not require a hierarchal relationship among its components. Though we may distinguish tenor and vehicle, we need not always do so.

[In Moore this can be quite complex, as in “An Octopus,” where we have difficulty seeing the mountain because of the overspecificity of description and proliferating digression. We are uncertain what is metaphor, what literal, or even what is being described. Figures that seem clearly metaphoric, like the octopus of ice, at times overwhelm what must be more literal elements. Our experience of the mountain therefore becomes the livingness of language--its instability of reference and the sensual equality created among its images and phrases. Thus, though individual language elements may be indentifiable as metaphors, more literal descriptive images, or quotes from Park publications, the meanings they create together are metonymic, occuring in and rising from their association with each other. To switch back to Diepeveen’s terms, each element retains its texture and it is in the play of these textures, as much as in any attempt to locate an argument or overarching metaphor, that we find meaning--and joy--in the poem.]

Crude & Difficult Poetry

Diepeveen takes issue with critics of Modernism (Edmund Wilson, Maxwell Bodenheim) who stress the power of the “molding” poet, thus betraying too great a confidence in the “unity and single impression” of the new artifact. “Such confidence in leaving the quotation’s past behind is naive,” he says, paraphrasing Williams. He quotes Herman Meyer in the Poetics of Quotation in the European Novel describing the texture of a quoting text as “a unique tension between assimilation and dissimilation.” In Moore, this tension creates a sophisticated poetic project, inaudible or invisible to readers who ignore the texture of quotation. (81)

To this idea, Diepeveen brings a discussion of metaphor theory, particularly the idea that “metaphor occurs when two elements usually thought unlike are yoked together, such as in the statement ‘the professor clawed my paper.’” In this idea of metaphor, the opposing elements undergo what James Ross calls “semantic contagion” as the elements of one field of meaning “force themselves” [curious phrase] upon another. Readers “wrench meaning from this forcing.” (81) Thus, metaphor is never paraphrasable for without metaphor we lose the precise “semantic content” of the reading experience. Only in dead metaphor do we “read past” this content and experience only a paraphrased content. By insisting on the materiality of their sources, quoting poems recreate on a grand scale this metaphoric relationship between or among different worlds. (82)

Diepeveen links this affect to Modernism’s more general preference for difficult, awkward, even crude expression, and quotes Eliot’s famous maxim that “poets in our civilization as it exists at present, must be difficult. (82) The “deliberately clunky structure of the quoting artwork exemplified a new aesthetic of crudity, an aesthetic that is at the center of many discussions of Modernism,” he says, remembering that some critics have called Modernism an attempt to remove “fine” from the fine arts. Though “to be sure, crudity is relative.” From our vantage point we can see as much whimsy as nihilism in, say, Duchamp’s “Fountain” urinal, or find ourselves  “interested” in Cubism rather than shocked by its violation of the sacred cows of canvas and perspective.

Cubist collage specifically sought to protest the slick, technical facility of accepted art by incorporating “unartistic” materials such as newspaper and oilcloth and by using them in deliberately “crude” ways, preventing them from being absorbed into a refined discourse. Diepeveen (citing other critics) argues that crudity in art has structural implications which change the way artworks signify.
The signifier now reveals itself in awkward and imperfect elements... The crude artwork inherently has contradictions; it revels in them and refuses to allow readers to ignore them. In a collage’s use of ugly materials the different textures refuse to cohere. Bits of newspaper are awkwardly cut out, not forming accurate squares, but being close enough to the form to point at it insistently. E.H. Gomrich points out, by bringing in real objects in a distorted, disunified context, the quoting artist prevents representation: ‘If illusion is due to the interaction of clues and the absence of contradictory evidence, the only way to fight its transforming influence is to make the clues contradict each other and to prevent a coherent image of reality from destroying the pattern in the plane.’(90)
Moore’s particular revolt against “the pretty” was to open up the canon to “what had been thought of as clunky, utilitarian prose” and to write in syllabic verse. (90) Further, the quoting poem attacks the pretty by
the unobtrusive radicality of the quoting poem’s assault on language, for it extends beyond subject matter to the very means by which poetry is constructed....The fact of quoting makes Moore’s poetry difficult; quotations restrict virtuosity. Just as the quotation’s exactness often creates an awkward-fitting metaphor, so does the texture of the quoted language inevitably clash with the quoting texts, the two systems in conflict creating an art that achieves its power through this crudity. These poets created... structural metaphors that represent entire worlds in conflict, not just resolvable conflicts with the poem’s single world or voice. (92)

Diepeveen’s fourth chapter takes up problems of Poetic Voice in the Quoting Poem,  particularly the “rumpus” quotation raises with poetic unity. He quotes Eliot, who wrote in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (at approximately the time he published “The Waste Land”) that “a degree of heterogeneity of material compelled into unity by the operation of the poet’s mind is omnipresent in poetry.” Pound’s letters about the writing of the Cantos similarly stress a quest for “design and architecture.” In Moore and Cummings, the force of thematic unity imposed on disparate quotes reveals an even stronger urge toward unity. In the most disjunctive poems, however, to produce any kind of unified reading can be a challenge--and this, Diepeveen reminds us, is a particularly 20th century way of reading. (96)

Poetic Unity

Diepeveen adopts the concept of voice for this discussion, partly because it’s a model used by the Moderns themselves and partly because it allows us to construct a “personality” for the quotation, a way to model the “struggle of personalities” between quoted and non-quoted text in a poem. Voice has other features useful to this discussion, such as its implication of stability of the individual subject. the poem’s “speaker.” Voice is also the means by which other traditional unifying elements of poetry assume coherence (e.g. theme, imagery, etc.)
By describing the poetic voice, readers find the strategy that governs a poem’s unity. Voice also has some important resonances for quotation. A particular voice is established by the texture of a work, the same texture that is crucial for the quotations’ functioning. Further, the signs of a quotation (quotation marks, italics, etc.) add an urgency towards finding a voice, for they suggest a human source, an earlier voice... a speaker with detectable characteristics. (97)
Thus in Moore’s longest quoting poems (“An Octopus” e.g.), as in works such as “The Cantos” and “The Waste Land”, the function of voice is a central critical problem. Readers need a unifying system to tie together the quotes, and most readers will attempt to find such a system in voice. This fails, Diepeveen argues, not because voice is an inappropriate model but because “readers’ attempts to create a single voice are often naive, based more on wishes than on acknowledging that quoting poems work differently from nonquoting poems. Despite textual evidence to the contrary, readers strain to imagine and thus “create”...a single, chordal voice telling us the poem..” (97)

Using a passage of Pound’s Pisan Cantos as example, he demonstrates how it is possible to hear the quoting voice in and around even disparate quoted voices. “But this insisting upon a voice is both circular and subjective (there is a voice because I sense a voice, and I sense a voice because it is there), and does not answer the question of what Pound’s voice sounds like--or how it is constructed.” (98) Quoting Moore’s “Pedantic Literalist”, Diepeveen extends this argument, observing that even the language used to help “find” the poem’s “real” or “pure” voice reveals the circular suppositions behind the effort. Any moment in which the poem’s speaker seems to step back from quotation, any surfacing of “I”, is seized on as “the authoritative, nonquoted voice.” Thus we are able to create a plausible narrative situation.
--All to the good; but none of this defines “the relation of the quoted parts of the text to the main voice.” Nor can readers readily characterize the voice of poems like “The Cantos” or “The Waste Land.” We “recognize” it, but can only describe it by describing its habit of quoting other voices and texts. Diepeveen argues that this [rather obvious] problem arises because “[t]he poem’s voice does not simply speak the quotation; the quotation radically interrupts the poem’s voice... disrupting the discursiveness of a poem causes the poem’s persona to diminish in centrality.” (100) Even in less radically disruptive poems, like Moore’s, the voice is, at best, “muffled” by this disruption.

Diepeveen then states the defining paradox: “Signaling the new voice that alien worlds establish in the quoting poem, disjunction provides the key to the quoting poem’s unified voice.” Why? Because the voice specifically “comes through the relations the gaps build into the poem.” This unity of voice is not primarily or firstly directed at creating a theme. “One expends much more energy discovering how the quotations fit and do not fit into a certain structured reading experience of the poem.” “Voice” and its “unity” are constructed by “a pattern of relations between the voices of the inserted quotations and new text. A relation-structured reading of these poems, then, does not so much assuage the fear of lack of unity as change the discussion’s direction away from the traditional focus on unity of theme, imagery, or topic.” (100-101) Even ‘naive’ attempts to construct a unified voice for a quoting poem are founded in a correct perception that “poetic unity in the quoting poem comes from a dramatizing of the interaction between voices. Poetic unity--the voice--comes from the reading process, the types of relations (or metaphoric structures) that readers construct.” (101)

Lyric Vs. Dramatic Voice

If lyric voice is conceived to be singular, while dramatic voice is multiple, we can think of these as forming the boundaries of the quoting poem’s voice. (102).

Basing the voice of the quoting poem primarily on number does much to explain these poems’ characteristics, for the voice of the quoting poem is created primarily by encouraging or suppressing multiple voices The lyric quoting voice almost totally controls the new inserted voices and attempts to erase them. In contrast, the dramatic voice allows a number of different voices to exist and to flaunt their original textures; indeed, the dramatic voice can be found only in these different voices. The more disruption the quotation brings, the more dramatic the voice is; the less disruption, the more the poem approximates the lyric. In the quoting poem, the lyric voice meets many conservative poetic strategies, such as the establishing of authority; the dramatic voice encourages the experimental, such as the free play of signifiers. (101)

“But,” he acknowledges, “these distinctions are somewhat artificial, for no quoting poem is either purely lyric or purely dramatic. As quotation and allusion are points along a continuum, so are lyric and dramatic voices.” (101) And ‘[t]he quoting poem is always a hybrid, establishing its distinctive voice by emphasizing or suppressing one of the two voices, by establishing either of those voices that Bakhtin calls monologic or dialogic.” (102)

[Dramatic voice]:

Poets “approximate a dramatic voice through the fiction of a lack of control over the quotations.” To establish this seeming lack of control poets may manipulate the number, length, and placement of quotations, de-emphasizing symbolism and increasing disjunction. (103) In Moore’s “Marriage,” the number of quotes, a “series of voices, all on the same topic, but all pulling in slightly different directions” demonstrate Moore’s lack of commitment to any single position and make hard going for a reader trying to establish “what it means.” The sheer number and density of quotations “impinge on voice” and thwart attempts to find a lyric voice. “Rather than being controlled by a single strategy, the quotations seem to talk to each other.” Contrast “New York” with its clinching quotation, “accessibility to experience”. (103)

Lengthy quotations present another challenge to voice: in a poem with very long quotations a reader will increasingly look for voice within the quotation itself, less in the relation of the quotation to the rest of the poem. Its texture cannot be easily written over by or subordinated to the quoting voice. (103)

In poems with many short quotations, relations take on a texture that dominates the individual traits of the fragments. “(Relations, after all, are abstract concepts, quite able to overrun extraneous detail.)” Short quotations play a part in creating poetic voice, but do not in themselves contain the voice. “The shorter quotation tends to have just one significant characteristic for which the poet uses it. As such, this one characteristic is often easily incorporated into the strategy of the poem... As Moore’s poetry demonstrates, incorporation intensifies as the syntactic connection between quotation and new text becomes smoother....The use of short quotations more easily allows for the creation of a lyric voice.” (104) Longer quotations are more inherently dramatic in affect.

Placement can also establish a dramatic voice. A final quotation that seems to sum everything up is really duplicitous: it does not affirm the lyric voice so much as introduce dramatic instability and conflict. -- As at the end of “An Octopus” where the quotation finishes off the logic and imagery of the poem, but also “adds an intrusive bump to the smooth texture of this ending.” The controlling voice does not return, thus the final quotation “introduces a radical separation from the rest of text, and redefines the text that has gone before.” Whatever voice has controlled the poem here gives up some of its authority--particularly since it comes as the climax to such an energetic description. But the ending quotation can’t reach back and control the whole poem, either; its development has been too linear to allow that. (Contrast the control exerted by the opening quotation of “No Swan So Fine.”) Thus the voices of “An Octopus” must enter some kind of dialogue, a stronger dialogue than occurs when the poet’s own voice ends the poem (as  in “The Past Is the Present” for example, where the end of the poem is rather epigrammatic).  (106-108)
Accompanying any poet’s decision to accentuate or muffle the dramatic voice is that poet’s relation to the use of the symbolic in poetry. In much the same way that an ending quotation destabilizes the poem, the Modernist distrust of the symbol leads to dramatic confrontations in quoting poetry. A central poetic strategy clearly dominates the symbol, and as such a quotation used as symbol can also surrender its function and voice to this central domination, as repeatedly occurs in Cummings’ poetry. The quotations in Cummings lines “say can you see by the dawn’s early my / country ‘tis of centuries come and go” are used symbolically, to refer to a recognizable public attitude; almost any lines from any patriotic song could do. But if a poems’ quotations do not have a symbolic function, the voice of the quoting poem seems more dramatic because there is less control over the quotations’ voice and function.” (108)
If the quotation is not so much symbolic as it is celebrated for its idiosyncratic texture... its own peculiar voice will dominate and will assert itself against other voices in the poem. (108)
[Persistence of Lyric/Creation of a meta-voice]:

Since the quotation’s opposition to the new text is inherent to quoting poetry, all quoting poetry has at least a partially dramatic voice. The lack of a center of control in this dramatic voice hides traditional poetic unity.” (108) But the dramatic voice is only one boundary of the quoting poem, and never completely realized. “The quoting poem inevitably has something of a metavoice that is missing from drama, a voice that interacts dialogically with the quotations.” (109) This voice fills in wherever quotation is absent, yet rarely achieves authorial or first-person presence. “In the dramatic quoting poem there is not so much a clear sense of the pure drama’s conflict between equal characters as of a single voice guiding the other voices.” (109)

“As the dramatic elements of the quoting voice imply a lack of control, the lyric elements imply control. The form of the quoting poem, all that shows the shaping intelligence of the poet, becomes part of the central, lyric voice.” (109) In other words, a shaping intelligence shows through, just as it did in Picasso’s torn newspapers and ashes. “No quoting poem can therefore totally escape the lyric.” (109) Diepeveen points ironically that Pound’s apparently dramatic work in the Cantos is too egocentric to achieve any truly dramatic state, while Moore’s poems, which look more like lyrics, sometimes act more dramatically. (109)

Some assertions of the lyric voice can be spectacular, as in Eliot’s “these fragments I have shored” at the end of “The Waste Land”, controlling so much of our reading of the entire poem. Even so, this governing declaration has been anticipated not just by previous statements of the lyric voice, but also by previous quotations. Thus we can only discuss the lyric presence of this final voice by discussing its relations with the quotations. (110)

When lyric voice attempts to control the discourse it may do so by several means, including the poem’s rhetoric, its cultural judgments, lineation and stanza arrangement, quotation marks, syntax, and diction. Unity created by the poem’s rhetoric can encourage a lyric voice. Moore’s quotations are less aggressively enjambed than Cummings’, for example, and thus maintain more independence--though they are, nonetheless, part of a rhetorical strategy controlled by the poem’s dominant voice. (111) (As in “No Swan So Fine”) (111-112)

“The less the poetry uses syntactic fragmentation, and the fewer quotations there are, the easier it is to discover Moore’s rhetorical voice.” Whatever cannot be initially unified in the rhetoric forms part of the poem’s difficulty and provides “the slight dramatic character of the voice.” The voice of this poem vacillates between freedom and restriction. lyric and dramatic.(112)

Similarly, cultural judgments strengthen lyric voice “because they establish the authority of the poetic persona.” (112) It has been argued that “anything that betokens a cultural judgment or establishing of values” tends to be read as part of the author’s voice. In poetry, readers tend to put together clues of cultural judgment in order to construct poetic voice. Thus “all parenthetical comments, all contemporary or personal allusions that differ from the world of the quotation, and all value judgments contribute to the voice of the poetry. The more of these judgments these are, the more lyric the voice is.” (113) [Is this true when self-reflexive comments disturb an otherwise unified discourse? ST] In quoting poems, the quotations the poet chooses also result from, and express, value judgments. Hence the widely differing voices of, say, Eliot and Moore. (113)

The look of the poem also shapes voice. Where lineation and stanzaic arrangement are used to “trap” quotation, lyric voice dominates--or struggles to dominate. “The more the quotation has been visually changed from its appearance in its original context, the more the poet adopts a lyric strategy.” An end-stopped quotation tends to separate from the rest of the text, allowing the quotation’s original properties and dramatic relations to the rest of the text to assert themselves. More often, the poet will to some degree enjamb the quotation into the other text, consequently enhancing the lyric voice. Cummings, for example, relineates lines from “The Night Before Christmas” in his sonnet “unnoticed woman,” creating new end-rhymes out of “creature” and “hung” (with “feature” and “lung”). Moore avoids this kind of tug-of-war by quoting exclusively from prose. (113-114)

Other exertions of formal control include the capitalization of initial letters of each line, nudging the quotation into line with the rest of the poem, and the use or non-use of quotation marks. Quotation marks have paradoxical functions: they draw attention to the putting-together of the poem (which works against lyric unity) but they also highlight the shaping voice of the poet (one who quotes), allowing the poet to control the quotations while keeping some distance from them. (114)

In Moore, prosody usually remains homogenous throughout a poem. Her quotations are from prose sources, so the issue of preserving or overriding an original prosody does not arise. Quotations are usually set off as quotations by quotation marks [though this is not entirely consistent] -- a method that is relatively unobtrusive (compare Pound) and yet does cause us to be aware of the poem’s discourse, its making. (115)

Decisions about syntax are central to the making of voice, and Moore amply demonstrates the ways syntax can both express and suppress lyric voice. Her syntax works “both to establish free play for the quotation (a dramatic strategy) and to keep a lyric control over it.” (115)

Her frequent use of it is, it is not and other to be structures to introduce quotations allows them a great independence. They remain “separate units not part of any persona.” (115) Catalog structure is an even more radical defense of equality among parts, including quotations. In a catalog such as those in “New York” we have a surer sense of the meaning of the items in the catalog than we do of how they fit into “voice” in the poem. It is has clear denotation, but little connotation beyond an implication of passivity or objectivity. Its function is kept even more cryptic by the quotation marks, which distance the items in the catalog. “As does juxtaposition in some of the more spectacular quoting poems, here “it is” gives readers significantly incomplete instructions on how to use the quotations.” (116)

Yet the use of “it is” also subordinates the quoted words to the quoting voice. It exerts logical control over relationships, allows no doubt, and asserts identity between that which is quoted and the surrounding text. Thus the quotations are dominated, and a single voice is asserted. The slight disjunction helps to create “Moore’s coolly ironic voice and the exploratory, nondogmatic nature of her poetry.” (116) Since this type and degree of disjunction occur frequently, we as readers make of it a poetic voice, a poetic project.

How diction establishes a poem’s voice is infinitely complicated in a quoting poem, since some of the phrases are not original with the poet. Both Moore and Pound addressed this problem by “silently emending” some quotations to fit the poem’s voice. Strictly speaking, then, these are no longer quite quotes, but a reader is rarely in a position to know this. The first lines of “No Swan So Fine”, for example, are emended from the caption of a photograph in the New York Times Magazine, 10 May 1931: “There is No Water So Still as in the Dead Fountains of Versailles.” By tightening the diction Moore makes the quotation almost aphoristic and gives it what Diepeveen calls “a slightly fusty nineties sound to go with the image of the swan.” (117) Thus, in his words, it works more univocally with the next few phrases of the poem. All this, obviously, contributes to the making of a lyric voice.

“In the quoting poem,” Diepeveen says, “the strong lyric voice implies either of two relationships with the quotations. The poet can either accept or repudiate the quotations, for ambivalence or attempts at pure objectivity introduce dramatic qualities. Acceptance, creating a single stance between author and poetic voice, ideally has no dramatic overtones. But unequivocal acceptance does not occur in Modernist poetry, probably because to the postromantic poet such a stance seems naive. When Pound accepts his quotations the most univocally, the cantos begin fading to the status of treatises (e.g., the Adams cantos).” (120)

The strongest lyric voice in quoting poetry, he argues, is found in Cummings’ satire, where “cultural judgments, syntax, diction and disjunction” create a powerful persona. Pound, by contrast, is more tongue-in-cheek and nearly always allows positive and negative “attitudes to the idiom” to exist side-by-side. (120) Pound and Eliot, in Diepeveen’s view, hide the lyric voice most aggressively, with the “plethora of voices and the disjunction conspiring to fragment a voice.” (123) Even so, a voice can be found--in rhetoric, symbolism, and the main voice’s interactions with quoting strategies.

Impersonal Poetry

When studying borrowed objects one finally has to turn to the person who is doing the borrowing. The quoting poem’s voice, whether lyric or dramatic, has an ambiguous relation to the poet who creates it, for quoting muffles personal expression. It does so because at the center of the quotation, the quoting poet has all but disappeared. As Maud Ellman argues for The Waste Land, “Caught in an infinite quotation, the ‘I’ is exposed as a grammatical position, rather that the proof of the presence of the author.”

Quotation, then, is a distancing device, a device that points to and complicates issues of objectivity and impersonality. Whether coolly ironic, as in Moore, or frenetically didactic, as in some of Pound, “the use of poetic persona who speaks borrowed words ensures that one cannot immediately attach to the quoting voice characteristics which are personal, immediate.” (127) Diepeveen extends this observation about distancing to all of “quoting modernism,” including Cubism, which stressed the importance of intellect over emotion in experiencing and creating art, noting that “as if to underscore this impersonality, Picasso, Braque, and Gris often signed their collages on the back, thus muting the idea of authorship. He goes on to cite Pound on poetry as mathematics or machinery, and Eliot’s famous presentation of art as “a continual extinction of personality” and “an escape from personality.”

[Yes, but. Eliot is endlessly quoted just so, despite the fact that in this infamous passage his next statement is that only someone who has a personality and emotions can know what it means to wish to escape them. Merely to know that he wrote “The Waste Land” while recuperating from a failed marriage and a breakdown is to put the lie to Eliot’s Personality-Free marketing image, invented as much by his followers as by himself. Diepeveen goes on to remind us that Eliot himself urged us to study Shakespeare’s biography in order to understand Hamlet. (127)]

Thus, despite decades of clichés about the impersonality of Modernism, Diepeveen argues that it is best understood as a negotiation between Romanticism and “objectivity.” Quotation is almost wholly seen as a weapon on the side of distance and objectivity:
Moreover, quoting is a startling manifestation of the Modernist concern for objectivity, for it shows both why quoting may have attracted “objective” Modernist writers, and how poets physically build distance into their poems. The basic models for the quoting poem’s objectivity are constructed from several versions of what Eliot called the objective correlative. Given the influence that the Symbolist idea of art as self-contained object (rather than as expression of the poet’s personality) had achieved by the first decade of this century, the simultaneous residue of romanticism with its emphasis on a transformative creativity, the many versions of the objective correlative which can be found in Modernism seem almost inevitable.” (128)
He then quotes Eliot’s famous formulation, published in 1919:
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of the particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately invoked. (“Hamlet” 48, quoted in Diepeveen 128)
This was neither the first nor the most vigorous presentation of the argument. The term “objective correlative” came from a treatise on logic published in 1900. The French poet Mallarmé had called for the artist “to paint not the thing itself, but the effect it produces.” And Henri Bergson’s Introduction to Metaphysics (1903, translated into English 1913) had argued that
many diverse images, borrowed from very different orders of things, may, by the convergence of their action, direct consciousness to the precise point where there is a certain intuition to be seized. By choosing images as dissimilar as possible, we shall prevent any one of them from usurping the place of the intuition it is intended to call up. (14, quoted in Diepeveen 129) [Which sounds to me like a wonderful description of how metonymy works. --ST]
And then there is the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, a friend and great influence on Pound, who wrote in a letter, before 1915:
ARRANGEMENT OF SURFACES, I shall present my emotions by the ARRANGEMENT OF SURFACES, I shall present my emotions by the ARRANGEMENT OF SURFACES, THE PLANES AND LINES BY
WHICH THEY ARE DEFINED.” (quoted on 129)
[The apparent lineation of that paragraph was originally an accident of my word-processor, but I like it: it emphasizes even more strongly the relation between this rhetoric and Pound’s typographical/rhetorical strategies in his Vorticist phase. Pound’s “vorticism” was derived from Futurism (they had even used the word “vortex”) though Pound and his followers never admitted that. Gaudier-Brzeska, by the way, was killed in World War I.]

These statements by Eliot and by Gaudier-Brzeska have two things in common, Diepeveen points out: they imply “some escape from highly personal expression, but at the same time they argue that art presents equations for emotions.” (129)  The distancing is intentional, but so is the acknowledgment that the distancing, organizing mind of the artist is linked to the “man who suffers”, to use Eliot’s phrase. Diepeveen quotes Pound saying “intense emotion causes pattern to arise in the mind--if the mind is strong enough.” (130)

[I am reminded of analyses of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues as negotiations between the personal intensity of Romanticism (which neither he nor readers could do without, having been raised on it) and Browning’s desire for objectivity. Some of the poems arose from circumstances in Browning’s life or can be read as portraits of people he knew. Yet the voice of the poem is not Browning’s directly; it is displaced into the mouth of a dramatic character, and displaced further by the fact that all Browning’s characters lived in the past. Downright soap-opera material thus can be dealt with “objectively” and Browning can be held up as a model in the fight against the effusive, the effeminate, and the overly subjective in poetry. It is no coincidence that his work was important to Pound, nor that 20th century poets have, until recently, almost universally placed him far above his wife in importance. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, by contrast, wrote poems whose content was radical, but whose poetic voice was conventional and subjective.]

How then does the quoting poem distance personal emotion? and how does it make what we might call impersonal emotion? How does it create “an objective-sounding voice”?

First, says Diepeveen, juxtaposition and disjunction muffle personal expression. We are aware of the poet’s method more than of his or her direct emotion. The gaps in disjunctive poetry “obscure personality because they contain the personality of the poet implicitly (through readers’ inferences) rather than explicitly. The relation, and the personal values that relation may contain, is implied rather than directly stated. The implicitness distances the voice.” (130)

Second, the formalist bias of quoting poems decreases psychological intensity by highlighting what Marjorie Perloff has called “the linguistic play of surfaces.” (Poetics of Indeterminacy 62, 63, quoted on 130-131) Diepeveen suggests a comparison of the cerebral “self-enclosed intellectual relation among worlds” of “The Waste Land” to “the ostensibly visceral Howl of Allen Ginsberg. [I would only add a cautionary note: despite his public pronouncements about spontaneity and etc., Ginsberg wrote and rewrote Howl for about a dozen years, making both massive and minute revisions to the text. This is, I suppose, the meaning of Diepeveen’s modifier “ostensibly”.]

Third, “quoting poetry distances the poet because it treats language and experience as an object.” By using other people’s words, quoting poets create a double remove: not simply one remove between their emotion and their words, but an additional step away into the use of borrowed words. In some quoting poems (that qualification is mine) there is an affect that intensifies the authenticity of the emotion--e.g. the Sibyl’s “I want to die” (in “The Waste Land”) has already been validated by its prior use; as a quotation it thus resonates in ways unavailable to the angst of a directly personal poem. [Diepeveen doesn’t address at this point what kind of real or mock authentication might be derived from quotations of the sort used by Moore.] (131)

Fourth, quoting poems “distance personal expression so that it remains present but just out of reach, a shimmering mirage. “Modernist quotations, poised between assimilation and nonassimilation...allow poets to say and not to say things, to attempt to remove the presence of their own voices.” Readers are unable to identify the voice of the poem with the subjective poet herself. “Because they are such a public medium, quotations become a way of cloaking the personal.” (131) Notice he says “cloaking,” not “removing.”

If  you read Molesworth’s biography of Moore you will discover that many of her poems have complex and deeply personal origins. They are rife with private references, some recognizable only to her immediate family. Her use of quotations complements and mirrors that privacy. Readers typically do not know her sources and are therefore unsure of their original content, personal or otherwise. In Diepeveen’s words

This reticence encourages readers to accept the poem as an objective presentation of data and closes off rather than encourages readers’ access to the personal aspects of the poetry. The greatest emotional involvement by the voice in Moore’s poetry is an ironic one, a mode that establishes distance. With her syntactic connections and her use of quotations in a rhetorically coherent scheme, strategies that could be useful in creating a personal voice, Moore at times goes to great lengths to keep the personal voice out of her poetry. (132)

Diepeveen then discusses “When I Buy Pictures”, with its apparently personal opening (four appearances by “I” in the title and first three lines). The personal is highly constricted, however, by the self-analytic pose of the “I”. Then it simply disappears, and resists all temptations to return: instead the character “one” is substituted. Eight drafts of this poem are preserved, and show that Moore vacillated about the ending. Most drafts conclude:

    I see that it is ‘lit with piercing glances into the life of things.’
    and I take it in hand as a savage would take a looking-glass.

By the time of publication, however, in The Dial, July 1921, “I” has been removed not only from the ending but from other lines. In the final version, which we have in Complete Poems, not even the impersonal “one” appears at the end of the poem: our attention is not on the purchaser but on the artwork. The final quotation contains an unacknowledged semiquotation from Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” which, if we recognize it, further distances the voice. (132-134)

Similarly, in “New York” she has emended a quotation, “If it is only as good as that which I see other people wear, I had rather be without it.” to the more impersonal “it is not that ‘if the fur is not finer than such as one sees others wear, / one would rather be without it’”. Thus, a triple remove is created: from emotion to words, to another’s words, to another’s words made less personal. (132)

Still, no poet can completely escape the creation of a recognizable voice, “personal” at least to the extent that readers recognize its creator. As Diepeveen sums it up:

[I]f we see the poetic voice as the element that controls how quotations are used, every poem has a distinctive voice, be it lyric or dramatic. The voice can never be completely impersonal or objective. Although the quoting poem may attempt to cloak personal expression, the equations for emotions are still personally determined. The relations between quotation and the rest of the poem are still the working of the individual poet’s mind, and thus are inescapably personal. (137)


This step back from the surface of the quoting poem to a consideration of whose voice is speaking in the quoting poem has underscored a discovery of earlier chapters: the quoting poem is the field on which strategies essential to the larger Modernist project tug in opposing
directions. The quoting poems is both profoundly repetitive and original; it is neither purely lyric nor dramatic, neither univocally personal nor impersonal. (138)