Poet Marion Canby

Since we are gonna make changes on our websites, I have to move this content regarding the poet Marion Canby. It will be part of a new reader, yet meanwhile we place it on Civilized Objects …

See the nest in the meadow …

In search of the writer Marion Canby

A poem by Marion Canby

… a meadow … with nesting life
spared by a mower’s blade set high
the flowering weeds and grasses strewn
over the field to be raked and dried
by rays from a fire set high in the heaven.

From: High Mowing by Marion Canby, 1932

I came across this poem in an opening quote, namely in “Leadership” by James MacGregor Burns ( http://www.academy.umd.edu/home/index.htm). This stanza is amazingly beautiful. Googling I found that Willa Cather http://cather.unl.edu/must have been in contact with Marion Canby….”


FROM: A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather, see: http://cather.unl.edu/letters.html?name=High+Mowing (last accessed 11 May 2009). I cite:

Letter ID: 1106
Addressee: Canby, Marion
Date: 1932-04-21
Repository: Yale University, Beinecke Library, New Haven, Conn.
To Marion Canby, Apr. 21, [1932?]; Beinecke

Has just found her book of verses [High Mowing, 1932] among a great many books that have come by mail. Likes them very much. Will be in town at the Grosvenor for about two weeks. Hopes they can talk. P.S.: Especially likes “Timid One” [a poem that expresses a wish for escape from being one’s self ]. Willa Cather [Stout #1106]
Marion Canby; the entry about the author at the Cather archive:
Canby, Marion (Mrs. Henry Seidel)
American poet whose verses, collected in High Mowing (1932) and On My Way (1937), appeared in such magazines as Scribner’s, the Saturday Review of Literature, and the New Yorker.


Other letters by Willa Cather that mention this person at the Willa Cather Archive: http://cather.unl.edu/letters.html?sort=date&rev=false&person=Canby%2C+Marion

Some of Marion Canby’s published works:

Different works by Marion Canby are listed and accessible via this site: http://www.unz.org/Author/CanbyMarion


An email I received by Anna Canby Monk

With regard to your post dated April 13th 2008, I wanted to ask whether you had found any further information about Marion Canby. I’m interested because I am Marion Canby’s great-granddaughter and I never realised she published poetry. I checked the James MacGregor Burns link, however didn’t find the quotation.
Any further hints as to how I could get my hands on a copy of the work or any of her poetry would be really helpful.
Thanks in advance,


My reply to Ms Anna Canby Monk

Dear Anna:

I found the poem in Leadership by James M. Burns. It doesn’t not name the poets name in there, but the title of the book. Because the poem touched me so deeply I googled the book title, and then found out that a poetry book with this name had been published by Marion Canby, namely your grandmother. This link takes you to the Willa Carther archive where book and author are mentioned, e.g.: http://bit.ly/mSOhA I also enclose you a scan of the book page from Burns’ book as an attached jpg file. I love this verse by your grandma. You can be proud … I wished her works were more known!!! I would be very thankful, if you would find out more, if you could keep me updated, in case you find any publications… Thanks …Wishing you a wonderful day…
Gita Yegane Arani-May


Ms Canby Monk’s reply to me

Dear Gita,

[…] Thanks so much also for the link to the Willa Cather archive; it’s one of life’s wonderful synchronicities that I recently studied Willa Cather and became a big fan. Now that I think of it, I suppose it makes sense that Marion knew Cather, through my great-grandfather Henry Seidel Canby who was editor of the Literary Review of the New York Evening Post and later the Saturday Review of Literature. My mom once mentioned that the two of them were in touch with a number of Jewish literary figures, and helped them emigrate from Europe and resettle in New York during the 1930s – one of them I believe was the Austrian writer Hermann Broch. He lived in New Haven – the Canby family home – and was buried in Killingworth which is where I think Marion lived at one point.

I also know that my grandfather – one of Marion’s sons – wrote a draft literary work about his mother in the last twenty years of his life. I’ve read parts of it, but must revisit it again. In our family home there are also stacks of diaries by the teenage Marion – many of which as I remember, are accounts of her and her family’s car trip through Europe at the end of the 19th century. One of the more funny anecdotes I remember from skimming though these accounts, is that often when they experienced breakdowns the car would be towed to a local blacksmith, some of whom had never seen let alone fixed a car before. I’m sure the diaries are full of teenage embellishments, but I find the images conjured wonderful.

I will absolutely let you know if and when I find out anymore. I found an online book store which sells ‘High Mowing’, so I’ve ordered it and look forward to reading it.

Someday maybe I will get around to writing about some of these thing before they are lost from living memory.

Best wishes,


Then I received this kind email by the poet Donata Lewandowski Guerra

Dear Gita,

I was amazed to find the lines of Marion Canby and your correspondence with her relative, especially since, by chance I had been doing extensive research on her and her family all week in Wilmington, Delaware. In addition I worked all week on a sonnet about a pivotal tragedy in her life which I have placed online


Thank you for your site. I do hope you might put me in contact with her great grandaughter since I have much more information.

Donata Lewandowski Guerra

Always oppressive specifics

What if it’s really illusionary to heal one evil by applying another evil? Like trying to fight an -ism
while (or with) sustaining another -ism – maybe inadvertently?
We don’t need/see/want an antisexist society where birds are still being objectified as food.
Any -ism … has its own specifics. Being against all neg. ‘-isms’, implies acknowledging their cases.

antispeciesist Animal sociology, Gruppe Messel

A fragment on insect mythologies

Slightly edited repost of: https://simorgh.de/niceswine/fragment-on-insect-mythologies-and-representations (2014)

A fragment on insect mythologies and insect representations, and why symbolism is not sufficient to explain the relation

Insects in mythology are mostly explained as a phenomenon that stands for a “symbolism”. It seems that authors/researchers find it hard to imagine that for instance the Scarabaeus (attributed in the Egyptian pantheon to the God Kheper), a “dung beetle”, was appreciated for more than just that, what humans attributed to him in terms of their own anthropocentric concept of the earth, its meaning and the universe.

What if for instance the early Egyptians did see a world of unique value in the life and activities of the scarab beetles?

It could likely be that it was fascinating to observe, how the beetles rolled this ball of soil and dung, to think about what meaning the beetles might have given to their existence on earth overall. Maybe it was that ancient civilizations/cultures had an ability to take nonhuman animals as cultures? A small beetle that rolls a ball like a planet, from which new insect life would spring forth … .

A typical thought you find on the topic of nonhuman animals and nature in mythologies is, that humans would imbue nature with meaning. Quite contrarily, people could have felt that nature did in fact have meaning, and that nature (being) is meaning in itself.

As far as I could find out now, the most prominent mythologies about insects and alike, evolve around: bees, butterflies, spiders, scorpions, cicadas and the scarab beetles.

If we add the heavy weight of underlying such a relationship in mythology to our today’s definition of “symbolism” – that is if we say that i.e. such insects were mere symbols for anthropomorphic attributions – then we should scrutinize more closely the epistemological history of “symbols” and the term’s etymology to shed light on the construct that we apply here.


Decolonialism doesn’t explain forms of nonhuman objectification


Decolonialism does not explain forms on nonhuman objectification and human “ruling via definition” in regards to “(nonhuman) animality” (which in itself is yet a term to be argued about and to be analyzed).

Decolonialism is one thing, Animal Objectification has its own histories, even when problematics converge and overlap e.g. in terms of ecological, eco-social contextualities. Brining decolonialism in as the solution for forms of animal objectification puts all hope on intra-human cultural diversity and ignores the dilemma of human definition of animal identity, which is simply not considered to be a historical major mistake seen in itself.

Decolonialism applies to intra-human constellations while the schism between “animal” and “human”, as some form of great hierarchically applied identities, stands outside of intra-human conflicts.

The notion of “human“ and the notion of “animal” differs with individuals, differs in different times and in different cultures. Bringing us all together under the assumption of functionability can’t solve the source of conflict between the predominant varied human notions of “human” and varied human notions of “nonhuman and animal” which resulted in today’s settings that we persistently have with animal objectifications.

Also, the problem with decolonialism to be applied as a tool to dismantle animal objectification raises the question of why the histories of animal objectification can’t be addressed with their own complicated specifics.

Antibiologistic Animal Sociology

Subversion and Oppression

Who pretends that subversion functioned differently in society than oppressive patterns, with both relying on similar basic assumptions about the human-animal-nature schisms – mostly in regards to the phenomenons of “existential meaningfulness” and the question of “self-authority”?
antibiologistic animal sociology

Critique of mainstream Animal Allies

Those most visible of today’s animal allies (the animal rights and animal liberation movement) are equally unwilling to abstract from the biologism they apply to their perspectives on animality in a seemingly unquestioned manner, not different to any perspectival view on animality expressed in the conventional foundations of “human” hybris.

They equally limit their view to the equation: human > reason; animal > instinct. The paradigm-shifts in concepts of culture, languages, and sociability/socialness themselves haven’t taken place in human emancipation yet, to extend to nonhuman groups and individuals. Manifoldness and heterogeneity do not appear on the human map, outside of hierarchical hegemonic ideas of life and living beings in general.

Argumentation routinely lays a burden of proof in a comparability of nonhumans to humans, as if a.) some unique standard of measurement always had to be taken, and b.) as if “human” could be grasped as a single monolith, when in comparison to “nonhuman”.

antibiologistic animal sociology


Ethics and Rights, as always

If you conflate the facts of ecological human destructivity with the factuality and bare existence of animal bodies, by statistically and quantitively adding up the array of damages caused by the existence of animal bodies in animal agriculture, then you make these animal bodies responsible for human actions of animal objectification.

Why don’t you instead name the injustice that animal bodies live through and die under? Do you assume that ecological destruction has nothing to do with the violations of nonhuman spaces? At least you never seem to talk about the harsh facts of injustice towards nonhuman animals when you discuss the ethical fallacy of anthropocene destructivity.

Reminder: Ethical talk without (animal) rights isn’t plausible.

Antibiologistic Animal Sociology

Alternatives for the term speciesism


We need a term that describes the broad discrimination/s or injustice/s exerted by human collectives and human individuals towards nonhumans animals and towards nonhumanity overall – in all its facets in which these oppressive mechanisms, thoughts and actions occur in different human cultural layers, such as religion, science, law, arts, etc.

Also, we need a term for the overall phenomenon of human destruction and destructivity in these regards. I refer to it as faunacide, as far as nonhuman animals are concerned. Some criticize the term “speciesism” on various grounds, I ask everyone to come up with more descriptive terms for what we witness and might conceive differently.

antibiologistic animal sociology

Alternative terms for speciesism






antibiologistic animal sociology

Animal portrayals in language 1

CN: animal portrayals in language

Why do speciesists and antispeciesist alike verbally make/cite basic similar descriptions when it comes to talking about Nonhuman activities, referring to instinctual behavior patterns more or less? Observationwise they both obviously fetch their language from the same biologistic box. As if lived subjectivity, outside that of a “human” self, was non-describable. As if an idea of generic pictograms ruled our language about what in reality is the nonhuman autonomy missed by these portrayals per definition.

antibiologistic animal sociology