English Usage

"English Usage" is the first song of Two by Marianne Moore.

Date: 1963Composer: Virgil ThomsonText: Marianne MooreSong Collection: Two by Marianne Moore

Print vitals & song text


The text of the song comes from the following poem by Marianne Moore:

Dear Ezra, who knows what cadence is.

I’ve been thinking–mean, cogitating:

Make a fuss
and be tedious.

I’m annoyed?
Yes; am. I avoid

and “bore”;

am, I
say, by

the word
(bore) bored.

I refuse
to use

to mean


“terrific color”
for some horror.

Though flat
myself, I’d say that

(pressed glass)

looks best

I refuse
to use


even “fright-
ful plight”
(however justified)

or “frivol-
ous fool”
(however suitable).

I’ve escaped?
am still trapped

by these
word diseases.

No pauses,
the phrases

lack lyric
sound caprick-like

Attic Afric

or freak
calico Greek.

(Not verse
of course)

I’m sure of this:

Nothing mundane is divine;
Nothing divine is mundane.


Up Toward the Sky

(Amy Marcy Beach, William Ernest Henley, Richard Hundley, Marianne Moore, James Purdy, Edward Rowland Sill, Gertrude Stein, Sara Teasdale and Virgil Thomson)


Sheet Music

English Usage (High Voice)

Composer(s): Virgil Thomson

Voice Type: High

Buy via Music Sales Classical

English Usage (Low Voice)

Composer(s): Virgil Thomson

Voice Type: Low

Buy via Music Sales Classical

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