John Ashbery

(28 July 1927 / Rochester, New York)

Quotations

  • ''But it is the same thing we are all seeing,
    Our world. Go after it,
    Go get it boy, says the man holding the stick.
    Eat, says the hunger, and we plunge blindly in again,
    Into the chamber behind the thought.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "A Tone Poem."
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  • ''I am not offended that these creatures (that's the word)
    Of my imagination seem to hold me in such light esteem,
    Pay so little heed to me. It's part of a complicated
    Flirtation routine, anyhow, no doubt.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Mixed Feelings."
  • ''Although I mean it, and project the meaning
    As hard as I can into its brushed-metal surface,
    It cannot, in this deteriorating climate, pick up
    Where I leave off.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Ice-Cream Wars."
  • ''Yet the landscape, those billboards, age as rapidly as before.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "A Tone Poem."
  • ''The first year was like icing.
    Then the cake started to show through.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "More Pleasant Adventures."
  • ''And the truth becomes a hole, something one has always known,
    A heaviness in the trees, and no one can say
    Where it comes from, or how long it will stay
    A randomness, a darkness of one's own.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "The Ice-Cream Wars."
  • ''I shall return in the dark and be seen,
    Be led to my own room by well-intentioned hands,
    Placed in a box with a lid whose underside is dark
    So as to grow....''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "At the Inn."
  • ''Then there is confusion
    Even out of happiness, like a smoke
    The words get heavy, some topple over, you break others.
    And outlines disappear once again.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "More Pleasant Adventures."
  • ''As I sit looking out of a window of the building
    I wish I did not have to write the instructional 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!
    Not one of them has to worry about getting out this manual on
    schedule''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic, novelist. The Instruction Manual (l. 1-5). . . Selected Poems [John Ashbery]. (1986) Penguin Books.
  • ''So, laying his cheek against the dresser's wooden one,
    He died making up stories, the ones
    Not every child wanted to listen to.''
    John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "At the Inn."

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Glazunoviana

The man with the red hat
And the polar bear, is he here too?
The window giving on shade,
Is that here too?
And all the little helps,
My initials in the sky,
The hay of an arctic summer night?

The bear

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