By John Ashbery

ISBN-10: 0670137804

ISBN-13: 9780670137800

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Extra info for As we know : poems

Example text

As perennial as time Is, and as insipid to the tongue, yet it Is built in another street; such luminescence As it has, it takes from the idea of itself Each of us has, and knows not, except To recognize, and feel secure again about its growing: I mean that it is a replica Of itself, which is itself the replica, Counterfeited from itself, which is something False, yet true, like the moon, and whose Earthly reflection is of a truly Hair-raising solidity, like the earth Dissolved in the sun, suffused with a kinetic Purpose it could never have for us Unless we dreamed it.

The long rains in November, November Of long rains, silent woods, Open like a compass to receive the anomaly, Press it back into the damp earth, The shadow of a whisper on someone’s lips. You can neither define Nor erase it, and, seen by torchlight, Being cloaked with the shrill Savage drapery of non-being, it Stands out in the firelight. It is more than anything was meant to be. Yet somehow mournful, as though The three-dimensional effect had been achieved At the cost of a crisp vagueness That raised one twig slightly higher than the Morass of leafless branches that supported it, And now, eager, fatigued, it had sunk back Below the generally satisfying Contours of the rest.

Whether a poem is written in meter or in free verse, the lines introduce some kind of pattern into the ongoing syntax of the poem’s sentences; the lines make us experience those sentences differently. Reading a prose poem, we feel the strategic absence of line. But precisely because we’ve become so used to looking at poems, the function of line can be hard to describe. As James Longenbach writes in The Art of the Poetic Line, “Line has no identity except in relation to other elements in the poem, especially the syntax of the poem’s sentences.

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As we know : poems by John Ashbery


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