''I could say it's the happiest period of my life.John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Ongoing Story."
It hasn't got much competition!''
''The things that were coming to be talked aboutJohn Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Blue Sonata."
Have come and gone and are still remembered
As being recent. There is a grain of curiosity
At the base of some new thing, that unrolls
Its question mark like a new wave on the shore.''
''It has been played once more. I think you exist onlyJohn Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Paradoxes and Oxymorons."
To tease me into doing it, on your level, and then you aren't there
Or have adopted a different attitude. And the poem
Has set me softly down beside you. The poem is you.''
''Though it seems improbable on the face of itJohn Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Other Cindy."
You must master the huge retards and have faith in the slow
Blossoming of haystacks, stairways, walls of convolvulus,
Until the moon can do no more. Exhausted,
You get out of bed. Your project is completed
Though the experiment is a mess.''
''And songs climb out of the flames of the near campfires,John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Business Personals."
Pale, pastel things exquisite in their frailness
With a note or two to indicate it isn't lost,
On them at least. The songs decorate our notion of the world
And mark its limits, like a frieze of soap-bubbles.''
''This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Paradoxes and Oxymorons."
Look at it talking to you.''
''The contest ends at midnight tonightJohn Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Other Cindy."
But you can submit again, and again.''
''The disquieting muses again: what are "leftovers"?''John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Business Personals."
''We are happy in our way of life.John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Parergon."
It doesn't make much sense to others. We sit about,
Read, and are restless.''
''Like a canoe route across the great lake on whose shoreJohn Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Other Cindy."
One is left trapped, grumbling not so much at bad luck as
Because only this one side of experience is ever revealed.
And that meant something.''
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Orpheus liked the glad personal quality
Of the things beneath the sky. Of course, Eurydice was a part
Of this. Then one day, everything changed. He rends
Rocks into fissures with lament. Gullies, hummocks
Can't withstand it. The sky shudders from one horizon
To the other, almost ready to give up wholeness.
Then Apollo quietly told him: "Leave it all on earth.
Your lute, what point? Why pick at a dull pavan few care to
Follow, except a few birds of dusty feather,