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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

John Ashbery: At North Farm


La terre rouge: photo by Guy Néchois, 2007

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

At North Farm: John Ashbery, from A Wave (1984)


leigh tuplin said...

This is incredible Tom. I'll definitely be hunting out more by Ashbery. I love the second stanza.

TC said...

My favourite JA poem of all time, this.

Those bursting granaries always evoke for me the loaded granaries of the squirrel in "La Belle Dame Sans Merci", its sensible provision a silent rejoinder to the "sojourning" lassitude of the pale and fainting knight-at-arms, prostrate upon the withered sedge.

But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

Hardly anything grows here,
in the red earth.

I imagined that the meeting and delivery of gift might have been meant to happen "here", at this bench at the seat of a deep and featureless sky.

Yet then again the appointment appears to have been missed, and the presentation unfulfilled.

And a storm of birds ominously darkening that sky.

(Heavy weather here right now, storm blowing in off the ocean, the tattered roof tarps flapping about.)

leigh tuplin said...

I was outside all morning today in the wind and rain and at one point driving hail, winter having yet another bow. After the last two weeks of glorious spring it was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least. I found myself dreaming of being here again -

It's outside the Arena Civica, Milan. We spent a seriously hot summers day there waiting to go inside to see the Icelandic band 'Sigor Ros'. Today was one of those anywhere but "here" days :)

TC said...


A bright and inviting absence, definitely. I'm there with you.

Still, beware the "anywhere but here" impulse. It looked pretty frigid today at the Emirates, but here in the "golden state" it's dark, rainy and windy, with occasional small hail.

It did not exactly look to be balmy in Milan either today, for that matter. And as for the return leg of that tie in Moscow...well, count your blessings, mate!

leigh tuplin said...

I'm thinking it might be a tad too warm in a certain Camp Nou next week, whatever the weather.

TC said...

Quite possibly, Leigh.

But I did think Arsenal should be given credit for heating things up late there on a frigid night in North London.

Cesc Fabregas converting that penalty on a broken right fibula will burn in the mind for some time.

And then insisting on staying out on the pitch until the end when a weaker sort would have been stretchered off -- a quiet flame of courage displaying itself in that.

(As a Somalian friend who is a lifetime Arsenal supporter put it simply afterward, "They showed dignity", which is perhaps the brightest of fires.)

leigh tuplin said...

As an ex Barca man, and the fact that regardless of injury he wouldn't be playing in the 2nd leg, I think they would have had to call for stewards and a manhandling approach to get him off last night.

It will definitely be interesting next week - If Messi and co really turn it on, it's hard to see any team living with them, but Arsenal never give up and they do have the collective talent to spring a few surprises, plus, there is the no small matter of Barca's (and Spains) first choice centre half pairing both being suspended for that match.

TC said...

I agree, Leigh.

What is it they say about desperate times and desperate measures?

Barça may have to bring in John Ashbery in central defence.

It may be impossible to stop La Pulga with mere physical skills, but perhaps the ultimate line of defence might be to confuse and mystify him.

TC said...

...Though of course by saying Barça might have to bring in John Ashbery in central defence I was merely attempting an Ashberyesque gambeta, designed of course to confuse and mystify, when what I really meant was that the Gunners would have to bring in John Ashbery in central defence, in place of William Gallas, to confuse and mystify La Pulga. Ashbery would thus sub for William Gallas, while Arsenal would then ship Alex Song, whose perplexity when commandeered into the role of centre half was to prove fatal to Wenger's side, to Barça, so crippling the Spanish side with his ineptness, while Pique and Puyols, both suspended, would be literally suspended above Camp Nou in the basket of a hot air balloon, leaving the entire stadium in a state of confusion and mystification. In the ensuing fog of combat Theo Walcott would then nip a deciding goal, Almunia would keep an astonishing clean sheet and the only remaining dirty laundry would be the tabloid reports of the night life activities of the players of CSKA Moscow, surprising upset victors over Inter and consequently co-finalists with the Gunners.

I have 9-5 odds offered me at Ladbroke's on this full scenario. If only bloggers were not so desperately undercapitalized, I'd do a serious plunge.

Instead I believe I'll go and try to catch a bit of a nap.

leigh tuplin said...

At present I'm giggling like the proverbial schoolboy who's just scored a winning goal, his shot ricocheting off the refs head into the top right corner.

I would willingly pay a larger licence fee to the BBC for your 'Match Of The Day' punditry.


TC said...

Well, Leigh, I would be on my way down to the banque to cash my first cheque in payment for my punditry when it would be noticed I had mis-spoken and said "co-finalists" when I should have said "co-semi-finalists". Perhaps not as bad as the "I thought the mike was switched off" gaffe of Ron "Early Doors" Atkinson a few years back, but still. Certain standards must be kept up.

Just ask Diego "My dog ate my face" Maradona.

(I was surprised to learn he did not claim it had been a Scottish terrier named Butcher, by the way... but I suppose that sort of explanation would be difficult to put over without lips... and given his well known skills in tripping the light fantastic, one may now be relieved to know that once his coaching tenure ends, there will still always be a place for him on Dancing with the Scars...)

leigh tuplin said...

Scottish terrier Tom? Surely a haphazardly bandaged english bulldog - full of heart but not of pace :-)

TC said...


I was referring to this particular terrier, former England skipper, non-tackler of DM in the '86 Cup, critic of the Hand of God, later Scotland manager:

Who is Butcher?

So anyhow, tell me within five minutes: will United overcome Chelsea without Wayne?

(I pay an awful, awful price in vascular migraines for trying to hitch a stream on these sorts of games, always all but impossible when the Magnitudes are clashing...)

(...and doubtless John Ashbery will be doing the same thing, clicking on dubious sites, picking up alien bugs, & c., all in the name of an enthusiasm that might perhaps not seem so extreme were the enthusiast four or five decades younger, and located on the proper continent...)

TC said...

(Looking at your comment again -- "full of heart but not of pace" -- I see you did indeed know the terrier I meant...)

leigh tuplin said...

I had forgotten about his attempt in the Scotland managers chair.

Hmmm, today.

It's a must win for Chelsea. Could potentially be the decider despite the run in. They know if they drop 3 points it will be difficult to reel United back in. They have the advantage of knowing where the net is right now - 12 I think in the last 2 games, whereas United struggled midweek, and without Wayne it's not immediately obvious where the goals will come from. Ok, so I'm obviously delaying actually making a decision here...

The smart money's on a draw I think, but I'm going for a certain Mr Berbatov to stand a little taller today and sneak it for the reds. Though I've been very very wrong before :-)

TC said...

Well, THAT had to be about my worst pre-dawn-in-the-cold-and-dark football match in ... I forget how long.

Had a headache well before it began. And United it seemed never would nor did get started. I had managed to snare a stream though -- not very satisfactory, Polish, and my Polish is not very good... but then... at seventy five minutes... havoc... paralysis... computer overwhelmed by attack sites & c. Twenty minutes to get it switched back on. By then the match was over. Read result on Guardian site. Sounded as though both of the last two goals might well not have been given.

A curious non-match, from here.

Berbatov alternately invisible and disappointed. Fletcher and Park into it, but to not much useful end. Scholes and Neville showing their age, probably should have been withdrawn earlier on one yellow apiece, perhaps the boss was saving them their dignity. Again to no useful end, in the end.

But then, it may have had a different aspect from where you are?

leigh tuplin said...

It will be very interesting to hear Sir Alex's post match comments, that is, if he's not persuaded to keep well away from the microphone due to the veins bulging on his neck - The Drogba goal was VERY obviously offside. A dreadful refereeing decision. The 'right' score would/should have been 1-1. But saying that, United didn't deserve anything from the game. Berbatov was sporadically involved, and I'm being over generous there. Unless he becomes a welcome hero in the remaining Champions league fixture(s) and Premiership run in, I think over his shoulder for the final time is how he'll be viewing Old Trafford come the summer. As for the rest, you summed them up correctly. Carricks absence from the starting eleven a mystery, Fletcher not as influential as he has been, Park industrious but with little direction and so on and so on. The last 10/15mins were, as is customary with United when they need a result, a barage of red pressure, and they came close a few times, but the final quality ball was just never there. Not only did they miss Wayne but a dip in the transfer market, however unlikely, seems a likely Mancunian shout now.

The result today does makes the fight for the title even more exciting though. This unpredictable season just refuses to pass with a whimper.

TC said...

Yes Leigh,

It is interesting...

And speaking of red pressure, there was quite a bit more of that, just now, from Liverpool, late, at Birmingham.

And to no avail.

Some desperation driving Gerrard on now, but he walks largely alone.

Rafa subbed out Torres for Ngog early (surely not! but yes!) and Ngog failed to take at least three excellent chances for a winner.

All in red walked off glumly as if losing something irrecoverable, as perhaps they had.

1-1, the away point not enough...

leigh tuplin said...

Well Tom,

I just listened rather than watched. (Mr Murdoch and his Sky, which I refuse to pay for, had the Arsenal match tonight, but thankfully the United match on terrestrial tv tomorrow)

It sounded, as the commentators kept on repeating, like a 'Messi masterclass' with the undeniable assistance of some charitable defending. I feel for the Gunners, and more so for the Gooners. Too many quality absentees I think. (Fabregas, Van persie, Arshavin et all) The backbone of the team back home at Highbury nursing their ailments.

Bring on a Redder comeback tomorrow night.

TC said...


For all the undeniable and unfortunate truth in the assertion Arsenal were missing the heart of their squad for this one, having watched it I am fairly certain that whoever Arsenal sent out, the night would have belonged to La Pulga.

He appeared untouchable.

The swiftness of feet and instant decision making and retention of balance and close control and indeed sheer cheek of the final goal, on a move any other player would have given up as wrecked, left the mind of this viewer boggled.

And the joy on the little magician's face as he reeled away in triumph, the whole house celebrating with him, was something to behold.

And as for today, just now I see that either Ferguson is playing little mind games (not uncommon, in fact predictable), or it seems there is some chance Wayne may attempt to force himself onto the pitch. Now that would be interesting.

leigh tuplin said...


Somewhat better tonight than last night - gloating will be the pleasure of the 'other' reds, (the rivalry between the two not lost on you I'm sure), and Torres substituted at the correct time aswell :) Though for a while there it did seem to be mirroring last night a little too closely.

Also, who was the young Mexican player you've spoken of before (the one to watch) ?

TC said...


The young man is Javier "Chicharito" (Little Pea) Hernandez, of Chivas de Guadalajara, and he is a pip.

Only 21, and with a world of future.

And about an hour ago Man United signed him up.

Their first Mexican player ever.

He will be a difference-maker.

As an indication of how much Sir Alex wanted him, as part of the agreement Man United has agreed to play a pre-season match in Guadalajara.

Leigh, I think I posted a link to a video clip of El Chicharito back on the "Replacement Heart (Wayne Rooney)" post...

TC said...

Leigh, that link to the Little Pea clip is in the third-to-last comment here.

leigh tuplin said...

That's why I asked. :) I'd read in the last hour exactly that, and thought the name rang a bell from here.

I'll check out the clip now.

leigh tuplin said...

I think that clip has been removed, but there is a compilation of someones opinion of what is his top ten goals -

very fleet of foot, a natural eye for goal, but more impressive is his movement. A mouthwatering partnership with Rooney beckons.

And I think your moonlighting as a scout by the way :)

leigh tuplin said...

'what is his top ten goals' ??

I'm blaming sleeplessness,

and stupidity.

There's also a compilation of what someone thinks his top ten goals are.

profile place said...
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leigh tuplin said...

I just had to revisit The John Ashbery Football Page, Tom :)

Did you watch tonights/days melodrama?

(my second attempt at a comment here in the last minute, but with hopefully the correct identity this time)

TC said...


As to the Tuesday/Wednesday events, it seems prose must triumph over poetry in such times.

Thursday brought a pretty good Spanish stream from Anfield. In many ways Atleti are Liverpool -- without the bragging rights, but certainly the eternally-committed (desperately committed) fan base, and certainly both clubs equally way out at the margins of real possibility currently. (Atleti stand tenth in their league, I think.) Still both would qualify as "noble clubs", in some way. I thought Benayoun stood the test beautifully and was surprised by Aquilani's apparent elation. But alas it did appear the better team came good in the end. It looked like a Glen Johnson miscue to surrender to Reyes for that splendid final dagger of a cross. On the Spanish broadcast the announcers then went absolutely bonkers over the finish by DI-E-GO!!! And he always does so well without the shirt. Never a good fit at United ("Diego Forlorn... Who's your hairdresser?" & c.), but then neither was The Lonely Veron. And yet both are in their different ways players for the ages, so it must go to show. Something. (Reminds me of how coldly United fans turned their hearts against Carlitos upon departure, not of course that he was ever the master of ingratiating endearments anyplace.)

leigh tuplin said...

Tom, I think all, or at least most of the heart on thursday night was in west London. Fulham were, in their own way, quite magnificent - a joy to watch and a real tingle of a game. During the post match interview with their manager, you could have turned the sound completely down and still understood exactly how Roy Hodgson felt - a picture of drained emotion, and the proudest of footballing fathers.

When the rich clubs are throwing their cash around (Diego off to Chelsea I think, and Utd's Mexican excursion etc etc) it's so good to see a club who really shouldn't be there, actually get there - a team of nearly men, just giving their all, and succeeding. Here's hoping in Hamburg.

leigh tuplin said...

Of course I don't mean Diego, but rather Sergio Aguero. Very doubtful Mr Forlan would even consider the premiership again.