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  #11  
Old 09-04-2017, 03:57 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Thanks, Aaron. Yes, I liked the poem. I usually try to avoid giving summary judgments like that in my posts—my aim is to piece together how something works. Often my sense of how much I like a poem changes after doing this. In the context of this poem, for the better.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:18 PM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
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As a longtime admirer of Ashbery's best work, I thought this commentary by David Orr might prove helpful for anyone who wants to give Ashbery's notoriously "difficult" work another try. (I hope the link opens for NYT non-subscribers.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/b...ide-nyt-region
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:00 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Yup, it opens for non-subscribers. Thanks for the link, Ned - a nice article. i liked his focus on Ashbery's sense of humor.

Cheers,
John
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2017, 01:48 AM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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John Ashbery and John Cage Meet in Heaven
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File Type: pdf John Ashbery and John Cage Meet in Heaven.pdf (21.6 KB, 40 views)
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  #15  
Old 09-06-2017, 05:40 AM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Well, at least they're not in hell.

Cage's discovery of silence as a key component of music, his music, is not the same as the superabundance of words that is Ashbery. More like, the "tribute" reminds one of a white painted canvas by Rauschenberg. Not everyone's cuppa but the analogy is more fitting. If anything, what Pollock did with paint, Ashbery did with words. That said, I get the humor.

Last edited by Don Jones; 09-06-2017 at 06:32 AM. Reason: Added statement
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Old 09-06-2017, 06:40 AM
Kyle Norwood Kyle Norwood is offline
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I've spent a lot of time with Ashbery. I think he peaked in the volumes The Double Dream of Spring, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror and Houseboat Days, where the play of language was excited and exciting, the new styles of conveying the texture of everyday experience were still fresh and exploratory, and the narrative continuity was a bit more evident than elsewhere. The other volumes seem more spotty (as most volumes of poetry are), and the last several books seem stale and repetitive. As William Logan suggested, in the last couple of decades Ashbery became a machine that mechanically produced competent, barely distinguishable Ashbery poems. But at his best he was something special. Now W.S. Merwin is all that's left of that remarkable generation.

Added note: Arrgh, what am I talking about? How could I forget about the great Richard Wilbur, the great but often overlooked Donald Hall, and the perpetual caricature of himself who still managed to write some outstanding poems, Robert Bly?

Last edited by Kyle Norwood; 09-06-2017 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 09-06-2017, 06:49 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Heaven
Heaven is a place
where nothing
nothing ever happens.


I enjoyed this last series of comments. Nice to be reminded that W.S. Merwin is still with us: the man who wrote other side of grief.

Cheers,
John
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  #18  
Old 09-06-2017, 07:07 AM
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Where ought one start with Merein?
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  #19  
Old 09-06-2017, 07:14 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Here are a couple from The Second Four Books of Poems:

Presidents

The president of shame has his own flag
the president of lies quotes the voice
of God
at last counted
the president of loyalty recommends
blindness to the blind
oh oh
applause like the heels of the hanged
he walks on eyes
until they break
then he rides
there is no president of grief
it is a kingdom
ancient absolute with no colors
its rule is never seen
prayers look for him
also empty flags like skins
silence the messenger runs through the vast lands
with a black mouth
open
silence the climber falls from the cliffs
with a black mouth like
a call
there is only one subject
but he is repeated
tirelessly


We continue
by W S Merwin
For Galway Kinnell


The rust a little pile of western color lies
At the end of its travels
Our instrument no longer.


Those who believe
In death have their worship cut out for them.

As for myself we
Continue

An old
Scar of light our trumpet

Pilgrims with thorns
To the eye of the cold
Under flags made by the blind
In one fist

Their letter that vanishes
If the hand opens:

Charity come home
Begin.

https://merwinconservancy.org/2015/1...ek-presidents/
https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/we_continue_454
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  #20  
Old 09-06-2017, 07:22 AM
Kyle Norwood Kyle Norwood is offline
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I particularly love one of his later volumes, Travels (1993). That book has some wonderful narrative poems and, in a few cases, a return to rhyme and regular meter. Merwin is most often associated with the "deep image" school of the 1970's, a style that is easily parodied and has fallen out of fashion, but there's some remarkable poetry in The Lice (1967) and The Carrier of Ladders (1970), along with some work that feels dated. "For the Anniversary of My Death" and "The Last One" (both from The Lice) are touchstone poems for me. Even some of Merwin's very early poems deserve a look: "The Mountain" and "The Station" from Green With Beasts (1956) are two that come to mind. He has an excellent, though quite large, volume of selected poems called Migration.

Last edited by Kyle Norwood; 09-06-2017 at 07:50 AM.
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