“If `compression is the first grace of style,’
you have it. Contractility is a virtue
as modesty is a virtue.
It is not the acquisition of any one thing
that is able to adorn,
or the incidental quality that occurs
as a concomitant of something well said,
that we value in style,
but the principle that is hid:
in the absence of feet, `a method of conclusions’;
`a knowledge of principles,’
in the curious phenomenon of your occipital horn.”
Moore preferred her animals armored, prickly and well-defended, exotic yet familiar, like her verse. The quoted matter in the first line she attributes to Democritus, though it sounds more like Moore. In fact, it’s probably Demetrius of Phalerum (c. 350-c. 280 B.C.) The latter quotes are Duns Scotus’. Moore’s interest is aesthetics, not natural science. Her “absence of feet” refers, I’m certain, to prosody. See “Diamonds” by Kay Ryan, a poetic descendent of Moore’s.