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John Ashbery

Rookie (28 July 1927 / Rochester, New York)

Quotations

  • ''The disquieting muses again: what are "leftovers"?''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Business Personals."
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  • ''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 number of your days concocts.''
    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 kinetic future.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The System."
  • ''Yes, in the long run there is something to be said for these shiftless days, each distilling its drop of poison until the cup is full; there is something to be said for them because there is no escaping them.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The System."
  • ''Life became a pregnant silence, but it was understood that the silence was to lead nowhere.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The System."
  • ''Here and there a bird sang, a rose silenced her expression of him, and all the gaga flowers wondered. But they puzzled the wanderer with their vague wearinesses.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Young Son."
  • ''The screen of supreme good fortune curved his absolute smile into a celestial scream.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Young Son."
  • ''There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. International Herald Tribune (Paris, October 2, 1989).

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Syringa

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
Can't withstand it. The sky shudders from one horizon
To the other, almost ready to give up wholeness.
Then Apollo quietly told him: "Leave it all on earth.
Your lute, what point? Why pick at a dull pavan few care to
Follow, except a few birds of dusty feather,

[Hata Bildir]