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Thursday, 20 September 2012

John Ashbery: The Picture of Little J. A. in a Prospect of Flowers


"In a far recess of summer / Monks are playing soccer."  Monks Playing Soccer, Xiahe, China: photo by Kitetraveller, 6 October 2006

.......He was spoilt from childhood the future, which he mastered
.......rather early and apparently
.......without great difficulty.

Darkness falls like a wet sponge
And Dick gives Genevieve a swift punch
In the pajamas. “Aroint thee, witch.”
Her tongue from previous ecstasy
Releases thoughts like little hats.

“He clap’d me first during the eclipse.
Afterwards I noted his manner
Much altered. But he sending
At that time certain handsome jewels
I durst not seem to take offence.”

In a far recess of summer
Monks are playing soccer.

"Her tongue from previous ecstasy / Releases thoughts like little hats." 4000 floating hats exhibition, Spiral Garden of Tokyo: photo by Nendo Agency, via just a bunch of dreamers, 4 July 2011

So far is goodness a mere memory
Or naming of recent scenes of badness
That even these lives, children,
You may pass through to be blessed,
So fair does each invent his virtue.

And coming from a white world, music
Will sparkle at the lips of many who are
Beloved. Then these, as dirty handmaidens
To some transparent witch, will dream
Of a white hero’s subtle wooing,
And time shall force a gift on each.

That beggar to whom you gave no cent
Striped the night with his strange descant. 

File:Phlox borealis 1.jpg

"My head among the blazing phlox..."  Phlox borealis: photo by Ghislain118 (AD), 16 January 2009

Yet I cannot escape the picture
Of my small self in that bank of flowers:
My head among the blazing phlox
Seemed a pale and gigantic fungus.
I had a hard stare, accepting

Everything, taking nothing,
As though the rolled-up future might stink
As loud as stood the sick moment
The shutter clicked. Though I was wrong,
Still, as the loveliest feelings

Must soon find words, and these, yes,
Displace them, so I am not wrong
In calling this comic version of myself
The true one. For as change is horror,
Virtue is really stubbornness

And only in the light of lost words
Can we imagine our rewards.

File:Field mushroom at Staunton on Wye - - 604849.jpg

"...Seemed a pale and gigantic fungus". The common edible field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) in a meadow to the north of Staunton on Wye: photo by Philip Halling, 3 November 2007

John Ashbery: The Picture of Little J. A. in a Prospect of Flowers, from Some Trees (1956)


TC said...

Ashbery is here assuming our familiarity with
Andrew Marvell: The Picture of little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers



"In a far recess of summer
Monks are playing soccer."

(A nice pairing w/ Marvell's "Picture" -- my how times have changed.)


light coming into sky above black plane
of ridge, silver of planet above branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

sense of not showing itself,
while it shows itself

same dimension, fixed frame,
especially in case of

whiteness of clouds above sunlit ridge,
cormorant flapping across toward point

Wooden Boy said...

Marvell and Ashbery
have their small selves
in the shade
while the phlox eyes open
like stupid hearts

The two of them
looking at the ungrown beauty
until they're hardly there
dropping words
all over the garden's
every place

Wooden Boy said...

Ashbery looks to his boy self, then. It took a bit too long for that to sink in.

Wooden Boy said...

The fungal head of that watcher in the phlox is making me afraid. A blistered, comic drop of grotesquerie.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

stubborn mushroom
frills and all
virtue interesting

a toss
a mad parade

that breathing

flowers up close
small worlds

after all

the little hats
an eclipse
jewels and soccer
what more
except chocolate

Susan Kay Anderson said...

There is much not sinking in-- the going boggy, springy, tundra. I stub my toes. My soggy ear, sloppy tongue barely sees the rainbow hues--if only land.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

What is larger, a mushroom, or a mountain?
In the green grass of cloudy home
I dream of a planet
where we wear tin foil clothing
Ray-Ban glasses
oh yes that cool
and do not know each other at all.
We have cool names like X
sway proudly to the music.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

I like that, Wooden Boy, "ungrown beauty" is clear.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Flox borealis
grow in the clearcut
they took a lot of water
that summer
after the trees fell.

Wooden Boy's fear
Ratcliff's comorant
Clark's marvel

company for the day
between the signs
thank goodness
we're just about

out of Virgo.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...


In this picture taken
Against a background of clouds
In a green meadow, the common
Edible field mushroom has
The appearance of a giant
Flying saucer that has just touched
Down and whose crew is justly nebulous
About meeting the earthlings
They have heard so much about
And who are now more than likely
Getting ready to welcome them
With another burgeoning giant

TC said...

The Alien visitors had second thoughts from the first, concerning this visit to the Bipedal Nebula.

But they are always accurate in their reports, and, once over the trauma, they beamed back full details of what they had learned: in particular, poetry as an antidote to the terrible custom in their world of taking oneself seriously; in this custom they had (as they honestly admitted in these dispatches), been all

... wrong,
Still, as the loveliest feelings

Must soon find words, and these, yes,
Displace them, so I am not wrong
In calling this comic version of myself
The true one.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Mushroom, you do look strange
just having landed

cloud friends
best friends

Report back to the others
tell of the factors
happening in the times table
green with clouds

Susan Kay Anderson said...

John Ashbery
little monk in a purple robe
lilac sash

quiet speaking
exact like science
imagination replicated there
springs from

source ashes
berry snowdrifts

that's how you could tell
it had snowed
in Colorado

it was so quiet
so serious