By John Ashbery
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Extra info for As we know : poems
Yet—whether it wasn’t all just a little, Well, silly, or whether on the other hand this Wasn’t a welcome sign of something Human at last, like a bird After you’ve been sailing on and on for days: How could we tell The serene and majestic side of nature From the other one, the mocking and swearing And smoke billowing out of the ground? Because they are so closely and explicitly Intertwined that good Oftentimes seems merely the necessary Attractive side of evil, which in turn Can be viewed as the less appealing but more Human side of good, something at least Which can be appreciated?
The boy who cried “wolf” used to live there. This place of islands and slow reefs, Like petals of mercury, that fold up Whenever that allusion is made. It falls off the others like Water off piled-up stones at the base Of a waterfall, and the petals Curl up, injured, into themselves. Only the frozen emphasis On a single thing that was out of sight When the allusion was made, remains. We all bought tickets to the allusion And are disappointed, of course. But what can you do? Events have A way of snapping off like that, like The glassblower’s striped candy canes Of glass at a moment he knows is coming, Is there, even.
The hedges are nice and it’s too bad That one bad axe stroke could fell Whatever needed to advertise its Very existence. And then cars strut forth on the highway Singly and in groups Of three and four: orange, Flamingo, blue-pencil blue, The gray of satisfaction, the red Of discussion, and now, moved, the sky Calls itself up. As leaves are seen in mirrors In libraries Half-noticed, the sound Half-remembered and the Continuing chapter half-sketched— O were we wrong to notice To remember so much When so little else has survived?
As we know : poems by John Ashbery