Excerpt from

What Is Poetry?



The medieval town, with frieze
Of boy scouts from Nagoya? The snow
That came when we wanted it to snow?
Beautiful images? Trying to avoid

Ideas, as in this poem? But we
Go back to them as to a wife, leaving

The mistress we desire? Now they
Will have to believe it

As we believed it...


John Ashbery Homepage at SUNY Buffalo's Electronic Poetry Center

John Ashbery at Modern American Poetry

I’m sometimes kind of jealous of my work. It keeps getting all the attention and I’m not. After all, I wrote it.

John Ashbery the Academy of American Poets

Meghan O'Rourke on How to read John Ashbery

On the one hand, the poems have the dashed-off look and feel of pop culture-inflected postmodernism, inspired by the radical innovations of Dada and French Surrealism. On the other hand, at their heart is a kind of high Romantic yearning for wholeness: In a sense the poems are simply about being unable to give up that longing.


Notes from the Air

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