Ondioline

"It seems very pretty," she said when she finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand."

To My Cup-Bearer

A lady or a tiger-lily,
Can you tell me which,
I see her when I wake at night,
Incanting, like a witch.
Her eye is dark, her vestment rich,
Embroidered with a silver stitch,
A lady or a tiger-lily,
Slave, come tell me which?

- Marianne Moore

Cup-bearers were servants of the king responsible for his libations and for testing them for poison, usually by taking a sip. Moore’s mad king cannot tell a woman from a flower and enlists the help of his cup-bearer, who is supposed to be his most trustworthy servant, but who is probably poisoning him with hallucinogenics. The other possibility is that the woman really is a witch, his night-visions are real, and his servant cannot help. Moore, craftily, never tells us which.

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