Spleen: Thirty-one versions of Baudelaire's Je suis comme le roi...
Moore was considered one of the leading English poets of the Forties, winning major awards on both sides of the ocean, and in line to be among the successors of the generation of Auden and Spender. Several personal misfortunes along with a few mysterious circumstances (undiagnosed diabetes possibly among them) made him retire from public view in the following decades until he was nearly entirely forgotten. Soon he was considered an eccentric, fit only for the fringes, prolific, dexterous, but hardly someone for the pages of the London Review of Books.
The thirty-one poems of Spleen—in voices ranging from H.D.'s to Kenneth Rexroth's, Bob Dylan's to Bee-Bop scat—were submitted to a contest being judged by George Steiner for the Sunday Times and mailed from several locations around London. The project, though a product of Moore's own personal demons regarding the problems of translation, not to mention the ironies of his once promising life, falls in line with any number of more conceptually aligned works such as Pound's Homage to Sextus Propertius, Queneau's Cent Mille Milliard de Poèmes, and the giddy conceits and deceptions of Ern Malley, Araki Yasusada, and Roger Pellett.