By John Ashbery
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Additional resources for As we know : poems
It was awful. And I too have no rest From the storm that is always something To worry about. Really. My unworthiness Like a loose garment or cape of some sort Constantly sliding off the shoulders, Around the elbows ... I cannot keep it on, Even as I am invisible in the eye Of the storm, we two are blind, And blind to the inaudible repercussions, The strange woody aftertaste. After that the wave came And left no mark on the shore. The waves advanced as the tide withdrew. There was nothing for it but to Retreat from the edge of the earth, In that time, that climate expecting rain, Behind some brackish business On the margin intuiting cataclysms of light.
Since the invention of the printing press, readers have become increasingly conscious of looking at poems, rather than hearing them, but the function of the poetic line remains primarily sonic. 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.
The séduction de l’âme will not take place. 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.
As we know : poems by John Ashbery