“A Jelly-Fish” by Marianne Moore

A Jelly-Fish

Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,
An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm
Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;
You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;

You abandon
Your intent—
It opens, and it
Closes and you
Reach for it—
The blue
Surrounding it
Grows cloudy, and
It floats away
From you.



A Jelly-Fish by Marianne Moore is part of a project in which I’m posting poetry that’s in the public domain along with illustrations which are also sometimes from the public domain and other times from one of the new AI art generators. Essentially, I paste in the poem, see what the generator comes up with, and pick the images that seem best to me. These particular images are from Bing. I’ve reluctantly broken Moore’s poem into two apparent stanzas but only because I couldn’t (yet) figure out how to lay it out otherwise. The fault is mine. The original poem is single, unbroken and beautiful. All art works the way of the jelly-fish, I suppose, but Moore caught more than her share of elusive, beautiful ineffabilities.