Filmmaker: Erik Carlson

The Fish by Marianne Moore

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

“An experimental video based on a Marianne Moore poem,” says Erik Carlson. The voice is that of the poet. I think the video really gets inside the modernist worldview, so to me it’s a good match.

The poem should be public domain now, I believe, so here’s the text:

The Fish

through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
adjusting the ash-heaps;
opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
The barnacles which encrust the side
of the wave, cannot hide
there for the submerged shafts of the

split like spun
glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
into the crevices —
in and out, illuminating

turquoise sea
of bodies. The water drives a wedge
of iron throught the iron edge
of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

rice-grains, ink-
bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green
lilies, and submarine
toadstools, slide each on the other.

marks of abuse are present on this
defiant edifice —
all the physical features of

cident — lack
of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and
hatchet strokes, these things stand
out on it; the chasm-side is

evidence has proved that it can live
on what can not revive
its youth. The sea grows old in it.