John Lawrence Ashbery is an American poet. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But Ashbery's work still proves controversial. In an article on Elizabeth Bishop in his Selected Prose, he characterizes himself as having been described as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism." Although renowned for the postmodern complexity and opacity of his work, Ashbery has stated that he wishes it to be accessible to as many people as possible, not a private ... more »
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John Ashbery Poems
Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror
As Parmigianino did it, the right hand Bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer And swerving easily away, as though to protect What it advertises. A few leaded panes, old beams,
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
Something strange is creeping across me. La Celestina has only to warble the first few bars Of "I Thought about You" or something mellow from Amadigi di Gaula for everything--a mint-condition can
My Philosophy Of Life
Just when I thought there wasn't room enough for another thought in my head, I had this great idea-- call it a philosophy of life, if you will.Briefly, it involved living the way philosophers live,
Just Walking Around
What name do I have for you? Certainly there is not name for you In the sense that the stars have names That somehow fit them. Just walking around,
Farm Implements And Rutabagas In A Lands...
The first of the undecoded messages read: "Popeye sits in thunder, Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment, From livid curtain's hue, a tangram emerges: a country."
Into The Dusk-Charged Air
Far from the Rappahannock, the silent Danube moves along toward the sea. The brown and green Nile rolls slowly Like the Niagara's welling descent.
The man with the red hat And the polar bear, is he here too? The window giving on shade, Is that here too?
For John Clare
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
Poem At The New Year
Once, out on the water in the clear, early nineteenth-century twilight, you asked time to suspend its flight. If wishes could beget more than sobs, that would be my wish for you, my darling, my angel. But other principles prevail in this glum haven, don't they? If that's what it is.
The Instruction Manual
As I sit looking out of a window of the building I wish I did not have to write the instruction manual on the uses of a new metal. I look down into the street and see people, each walking with an inner peace, And envy them—they are so far away from me!
Eyes shining without mystery, Footprints eager for the past Through the vague snow of many clay pipes, And what is in store?
1. Research has shown that ballads were produced by all of society working as a team. They didn't just happen. There was no guesswork. The people, then, knew what they wanted and how to get it.
When Eduard Raban, coming along the passage, walked into the open doorway, he saw that it was raining. It was not raining much.
Quotationsmore quotations »
''The disquieting muses again: what are "leftovers"?''John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Business Personals."
''Perhaps we ought to feel with more imagination.''John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Recent Past."
''... the first step of the terrible journey toward feeling somebody should act, that ends in utter confusion and hopelessness, east of the sun and west of the moon.''John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "For John Clare."
If you need a certain vitality you can only supply it yourself, or there comes a point, anyway, when no one's actions but your own seem dramatically convincing and justifiable in the plot that the num...John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The System."
It is the time we have now, and all our wasted time sinks into the sea and is swallowed up without a trace. The past is dust and ashes, and this incommensurably wide way leads to the pragmatic and kin...John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The System."
Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror
As Parmigianino did it, the right hand
Bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer
And swerving easily away, as though to protect
What it advertises. A few leaded panes, old beams,
Fur, pleated muslin, a coral ring run together
In a movement supporting the face, which swims
Toward and away like the hand
Except that it is in repose. It is what is
Sequestered. Vasari says, "Francesco one day set himself
To take his own portrait, looking at himself from that purpose
In a convex mirror, such as is used by barbers . . .
He accordingly caused a ball of wood to be ...