Saturday, January 10, 2009

Name the Poet!

So who do you think is the author of the two following poems? Please leave a guess. The answer will be found in the comments thread soonish, depending on if anyone feels like guessing.

The Night Cry

Not with my full strength O not yet with my full strength.

Kneeling down to be closer to the water
At night
He had been drawn from his home by the gray fields
To the black water
Whose far runnels sounded distinct

In the dawn of the gray fields
The night
The principles he’d fought for
The dog saving him

Which had comforted him without meaning to

A Vase of Flowers

The vase is white and would be a cylinder
If a cylinder were wider at the top than at the bottom.
The flowers are red, white and blue.

All contact with the flowers is forbidden.

The white flowers strain upward
Into a pallid air of their references,
Pushed slightly by the red and blue flowers.

If you were going to be jealous of the flowers,
Please forget it.
They mean absolutely nothing to me.


Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Portugal. The Man, Censored Colors


At 1/10/2009 10:32 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Hint: they were not recently composed.

At 1/10/2009 11:15 AM, Blogger Lara said...

My guess: John Ashbery

At 1/10/2009 11:21 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Oh, well, it was supposed to be difficult!

I must try harder in the future.


At 1/10/2009 11:45 AM, Blogger Lara said...

Oops. Apologies!

Umm, so where are the poems from? Neither one is in the Ashbery book I have (Selected Poems).

At 1/10/2009 11:57 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

They're from circa 59-61 in the uncollected poems section of the Library of America Collected Poems 1956-1987.

Whew. It was a birthday present I'm enjoying quite a bit.

At 1/10/2009 12:21 PM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

The first one sounds like mid-sixties Merwin, except for the word "principles."

At 1/10/2009 12:27 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Yeah, Andrew, I wasn't thinking Merwin myself, but I was thinking that there was more in common between some aspects of Ashbery and others, than some now say there was/is.

At 1/10/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

I certainly associated Merwin with Ashbery when I first started reading poetry. A very similar dreaminess, though by now I would say that Ashbery tends to use a much crisper palette, while Merwin generally writes like an Impressionist paints, with lots of fuzziness.

At 1/11/2009 11:17 AM, Blogger knott said...

kind of Merwin, Strand, and also reminiscent of the poems in a book called "Along the Dark Shore" by Edward Byrne, published in 1977 by BOA,

a book which bears the somewhat unique distinction of a forward

by John Ashbery——

Byrne took his MFA at Brooklyn College where presumably Ashbery taught him——

At 1/11/2009 12:59 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Of course, these two are not representative of all of what he was up to back in the late 50s early 60s, but it does show a bit more overtly Ashbery's relationship to Stevens, at least in some of his moods.

I've always wondered why a lot of avant-garde (for the want of a better term) poets dislike Strand so much.

At 1/12/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I wonder if these are collages, since they're from the Tennis Court Oath period...?

At 1/12/2009 2:42 PM, Blogger brian a j salchert said...

I'm here to forget why I came,
but everyone here reminded me why,
and then some.

Guess I'll blame it on the salmon.

Stevens and Ashbery. Abstractionists.
It's not even important to understand them.
Just hop on their magic carpets
and enjoy the rides.

At 1/13/2009 7:15 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Well, I suppose it depends on one's definition of "understand." I think of Ashbery, even more so than Stevens, as a poet who writes poems I want to encounter, and though I don't claim to "understand" the poems in a New Critical way, I feel I do in the general way of how the world works.

They are a part of that world that I can have faith in.


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