Late Echo

By John Ashbery b. 1927 John Ashbery
Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.

Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.

John Ashbery, "Late Echo" from As We Know. Copyright © 1979 by John Ashbery. Reprinted with the permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. for the author.

Source: Poetry (July 1979).

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This poem originally appeared in the July 1979 issue of Poetry magazine

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July 1979
 John  Ashbery

Biography

John Ashbery is recognized as one of the greatest twentieth-century American poets. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. Ashbery's poetry challenges its readers to discard all presumptions about the aims, themes, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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