English Usage

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

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

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Text

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

“AVEC ARDEUR”
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

“adore”
and “bore”;

am, I
say, by

the word
(bore) bored.

I refuse
to use

“divine”
to mean

something
pleasing:

“terrific color”
for some horror.

Though flat
myself, I’d say that

“Atlas”
(pressed glass)

looks best
embossed.

I refuse
to use

“enchant”
“dement”;

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
force;
sound caprick-like

Attic Afric
Alcaic

or freak
calico Greek.

(Not verse
of course)

I’m sure of this:

Nothing mundane is divine;
Nothing divine is mundane.

Sheet Music

English Usage (High Voice)

Composer(s): Virgil Thomson

Voice Type: High

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English Usage (Low Voice)

Composer(s): Virgil Thomson

Voice Type: Low

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