Monday, February 4, 2008

Late Ashbery

I've been re-reading some late-Ashbery the past few days (Chinese Whispers, Where Shall I Wander, & A Wordly Country) & may re-assess my opinion of 21-centurty J.A. Especially in the case of WSIW, I think he has some strong material that I otherwise wrote-off when the collection first came out. Particularly, I am interested in his prose poems & how they differ from his earlier collection Three Poems. Some WSIW excerpts:

We were lost just by standing,
listening to the hum of wires overhead. (1)

Got to shuffle, even if it's only the sarcasm
of speech that gets lost, while the whole blessed
sense of it bleeds through,

open to all kinds of interpretations. (13)

The architecture melted into itself, so that what was decoration came to seem the fabric of the building, a rude, uncommunicative armature...It was then I realized that I was part of the moving wall. Nothing could save us except the inevitable breaking of the text at the end of the chapter, a micro-redemption, like a green ray. (26)

Everybody likes it when the casual drift
becomes more insistent... (49)

In less than half a minute the sea had completely withdrawn, leaving a startled landscape of reefs and crowds, fierce and bristling as the water danced away from them. (53)

The beginning has collapsed and the serried ranks above are leaning together for support, glazed by the wind. (58)

We are not making up for the mistakes of the past, we are the past. (62)

That wisteria sky has to become a sea of comfort
on which we're cut adrift with lots of friendly goats and ghosts. (66)

Try to avoid the pattern that has been avoided,
the avoidance pattern. It's not as easy as it looks: (68)

By then it was we
who had disappeared, into the tunnel of a book. (69)

Call me choosy, I enjoy seeing a gunboat in the harbor, it signals me we can always turn back to sip the past once it's over. (73)


Johnny Cakes said...

Didn't he booze himself under? Or at least off himself in some fashion?

TC said...

Yeah, bad idea to willingly go into a game of chance in places like that. Easy way to lose your left kidney.

Warchevski said...

J Cakes:

He is still alive...I meant "late" as in career.