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Friday, 30 April 2010

John Ashbery: The Hero

File:First parachute2.jpg

Whose face is this
So stiff against the blue trees,

Lifted to the future
Because there is no end?

But that has faded
Like flowers, like the first days

Of good conduct. Visit
The strong man. Pinch him --

There is no end to his
Dislike, the accurate one.

John Ashbery: from Some Trees, 1956

Jacques Garnerin's first parachute, tested on himself at Parc Monceau, Paris, 22, October 1797: artist unknown. A schematic depiction of the first frameless parachute: Garnerin ascended in a basket attached by rope to the bottom of a hot air balloon; at about 3000 feet he detached the rope; the basket swayed in its descent, hit the earth with a bump and was dragged briefly over the landscape; yet the heroic Garnerin escaped unscathed.) Image restoration by Lise Broer, 2010. (Tissandier Collection, Library of Congress)

Blue Trees: Paul Gauguin, 1888 (Ordrupgaard Collection, Copenhagen)


Curtis Roberts said...

I’ve been hung up on/in this for hours, on the one hand lost in memories of first knowing the poem, and on the other, appropriately, on reviewing this through the lens of ekphrasis. I remain hung up "on/in". That’s very exciting.



Thanks for this, makes me think of BB's Blue is the Hero (perhaps echo of this?). Some May Day blue here too ---


silver edge of sun rising above shadowed
ridge, white circle of moon above branch
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

the idea which is reflected,
aspects which itself

changes scale, shift levels
edges, two illusions

sunlight reflected in windblown channel,
white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon

TC said...


Thanks very much for getting what was going on here. To find a hero appropriately "lifted to the future" -- and one who is simultaneously facing blue trees -- was the challenge.


The blue May Day sky...
the idea which is reflected.