There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.— John Ashbery
The most reckoning John Ashbery quotes that are free to learn and impress others
You stupefied me. We waxed, Carnivores, late and alight In the beaded winter. All was ominous, luminous.
Much that is beautiful must be discarded So that we may resemble a taller Impression of ourselves.
Then let yourself love all that you take delight in Accept yourself whole, accept the heritage That shaped you and is passed on from age to age Down to your entity. Remain mysterious; Rather than be pure, accept yourself as numerous.
The first year was like icing. Then the cake started to show through.
Reading is a pleasure, but to finish reading, to come to the blank space at the end, is also a pleasure.
The summer demands and takes away too much.
/But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes
I don't find any direct statements in life.
My poetry imitates or reproduces the way knowledge or awareness come to me, which is by fits and starts and by indirection. I don't think poetry arranged in neat patterns would reflect that situation. My poetry is disjunct, but then so is life.
I don't look on poetry as closed works.
I feel they're going on all the time in my head and I occasionally snip off a length.
In the increasingly convincing darkness The words become palpable, like a fruit That is too beautiful to eat.
I think that in the process of writing, all kinds of unexpected things happen that shift the poet away from his plan and that these accidents are really what we mean when we talk about poetry.
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you, At incredible speed, traveling day and night, Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes. But will he know where to find you, Recognize you when he sees you, Give you the thing he has for you?
Not until it starts to stink does the inevitable happen.
Life is beautiful. He who reads that As in the window of some distant, speeding train Knows what he wants, and what will befall.
The sun fades like the spreading Of a peacock's tail, as though twilight Might be read as a warning to those desperate For easy solutions.
Life is not at all what you might think it to be A simple tale where each thing has its history It's much more than its scuffle and anything goes Both evil and good, subject to the same laws.
I always thought that writing poetry was in itself a political act.
All beauty, resonance, integrity, Exist by deprivation or logic Of strange position.
In the evening Everything has a schedule, if you can find out what it is.
Poetry comes to me out of thin air or out of my unconscious mind.
It's sort of the way dreams come to us and the way that we get knowledge from them, through television, old movies, which I watch a lot of. Lines of dialogue suddenly seem to be part of a poem.
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.
Part of the strength of Pollock and Rothko's art, in fact, is this doubt as to whether art may be there at all.
We are prisoners of the world's demented sink.
The soft enchantments of our years of innocence Are harvested by accredited experience Our fondest memories soon turn to poison And only oblivion remains in season.
I don't want to read what is going to slide down easily;
there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience.
I listen to music a great deal. In a way, it's trying to express things that can't be expressed in words. That's something that interests me, too. Even though I use words to express myself, I am trying to, it seems to me, get beyond that.
This whole moment is the groin Of a borborygmic giant who even now Is rolling over on us in his sleep.
A perfect example of the new republic's urge to drape itself with the togas of classical respectability.
Things can harden meaningfully in the moment of indecision
... the first step of the terrible journey toward feeling somebody should act, that ends in utter confusion and hopelessness, east of the sun and west of the moon.
A yak is a prehistoric cabbage; of that, we can be sure.
Until, accustomed to disappointments, you can let yourself rule and be ruled by these strings or emanations that connect everything together, you haven't fully exorcised the demon of doubt that sets you in motion like a rocking horse that cannot stop rocking.
The gray glaze of the past attacks all know-how...
Therefore bivouac we On this great, blond highway, unimpeded by Veiled scruples, worn conundrums. Morning is Impermanent. Grab sex things, swing up Over the horizon like a boy On a fishing expedition.
I like poems you can tack all over with a hammer and there are no hollow places.
And the way Though discontinuous, and intermittent, sometimes Not heard of for years at a time, did, Nonetheless, move up, although, to his surprise It was inside the house, And always getting narrower.
And just as there are no words for the surface, that is, No words to say what it really is, that it is not Superficial but a visible core, then there is No way out of the problem of pathos vs. experience.
Extreme patience and persistence are required, Yet everybody succeeds at this before being handed The surprise box lunch of the rest of his life.
But always and sometimes questioning the old modes And the new wondering, the poem, growing up through the floor, Standing tall in tubers, invading and smashing the ritual Parlor, demands to be met on its own terms now, Now that the preliminary negotiations are at last over.
To the poet as a basement quilt, but perhaps To some reader a latticework of regrets.
I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them.
Sometimes a musical phrase would perfectly sum up The mood of a moment.
One of those lovelorn sonatas For wind instruments was riding past on a solemn white horse. Everybody wondered who the new arrival was.
I lost my ridiculous accent without acquiring another
It is because everything is relative That we shall never see in that sphere of pure wisdom and Entertainment much more than groping shadows of an incomplete Former existence so close it burns like the mouth that Closes down over all your effort like the moment Of death
Once a happy old man One can never change the core of things, and light burns you the harder for it.
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you, At incredible speed, traveling day and night.
The term ignorant is indeed perhaps an overstatement, implying as it does that something is known somewhere, whereas in reality we are not even sure of this: we in fact cannot aver with any degree of certainty that we are ignorant. Yet this is not so bad; we have at any rate kept our open-mindedness -- that, at least, we may be sure that we have -- and are not in any danger, or so it seems, of freezing into the pious attitudes of those true spiritual bigots whose faces are turned toward eternity and who therefore can see nothing.
And we may be led, then, upward through more Powerful forms of poetry, past columns With peeling posters on them, to the country of indifference. Meanwhile if the swell diapasons, blooms Unhappily and too soon, the little people are nonetheless real.
Just keep playing, mastering as you do the step Into disorder this one meant.
Don't you see It's all we can do? Meanwhile, great fires Arise, as of haystacks aflame. The dial has been set And that's ominous, but all your graciousness in living Conspires with it, now that this is our home: A place to be from, and have people ask about.
The evening light was like honey in the trees When you left me and walked to the end of the street Where the sunset abruptly ended. The wedding-cake drawbridge lowered itself To the fragile forget-me-not flower. You climbed aboard. Burnt horizons suddenly paved with golden stones, Dreams I had, including suicide, Puff out the hot-air balloon now. It is bursting, it is about to burst