Marianne Moore

Here you will find the Poem He Digesteth Harde Yron of poet Marianne Moore

He Digesteth Harde Yron

Although the aepyornis
 or roc that lived in Madagascar, and
the moa are extinct,
the camel-sparrow, linked
 with them in size--the large sparrow
Xenophon saw walking by a stream--was and is
a symbol of justice.

 This bird watches his chicks with
 a maternal concentration-and he's
been mothering the eggs
at night six weeks--his legs
 their only weapon of defense.
He is swifter than a horse; he has a foot hard
as a hoof; the leopard

 is not more suspicious.How
 could he, prized for plumes and eggs and young
used even as a riding-beast, respect men
 hiding actor-like in ostrich skins, with the right hand
making the neck move as if alive
and from a bag the left hand strewing grain, that ostriches

 might be decoyed and killed!Yes, this is he
whose plume was anciently
the plume of justice; he
 whose comic duckling head on its
great neck revolves with compass-needle nervousness
when he stands guard,

 in S-like foragings as he is
 preening the down on his leaden-skinned back.
The egg piously shown
as Leda's very own
 from which Castor and Pollux hatched,
was an ostrich-egg.And what could have been more fit
for the Chinese lawn it

 grazed on as a gift to an
 emperor who admired strange birds, than this
one, who builds his mud-made
nest in dust yet will wade
 in lake or sea till only the head shows.

	.	.	.	.	.	.	.

 Six hundred ostrich-brains served
 at one banquet, the ostrich-plume-tipped tent
and desert spear, jewel-
gorgeous ugly egg-shell
 goblets, eight pairs of ostriches
in harness, dramatize a meaning
always missed by the externalist.

 The power of the visible
 is the invisible; as even where
no tree of freedom grows,
so-called brute courage knows.
 Heroism is exhausting, yet
it contradicts a greed that did not wisely spare
the harmless solitaire

 or great auk in its grandeur;
 unsolicitude having swallowed up
all giant birds but an alert gargantuan
 little-winged, magnificently speedy running-bird.
This one remaining rebel
is the sparrow-camel.