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  • Paperback
  • 96 pages
  • A Worldly Country: New Poems
  • John Ashbery
  • English
  • 13 November 2017
  • 9780061173844

About the Author: John Ashbery

John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927 He earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia, and he traveled as a Fulbright Scholar to France in 1955 Best known as a poet, he has published than twenty collections, most recently A Worldly Country Ecco, 2007 His Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror Viking, 1975 won the three major American prizes the Pulitzer, the National Book Award,

10 thoughts on “A Worldly Country: New Poems

  1. says:

    M Ashbery used the word OK twelve times in this book That s a lot of occurrences, but not nearly as many as I thought there would be before I actually counted them This mistaken preconception was due to its occurrence in clusters throughout the book one poem with two OKs and the very next with another one This occurs I believe twice in the book 3 OKs on 2 pages twice With this in mind I trust that anyone reading this will understand why I had the mistaken preconception that there was going to be an average of almost one OK per poem before I sat down and counted them.Counting OKs in a book of poetry is very easy As long as the poems are not all caps concrete poems, or poems that for one reason or another have an abundance of caps, counting the OKs is very easy a quick all over scan of the page and an OK stands out like a sore thumb Not to disparage their use with that unpleasant simile OKs are not like sore thumbs I actually kinda like the casualness they impart, but when I thought that M Ashbery had possibly used an average of one OK in every poem I did think that he was over doing the casualness My counting them rectified that, but the poems still have a casualness, a masterful casualness.This is a casual, though masterful, collection of poetry, and in this review I feel like repeating words unnecessarily I had slightly disparaged it in my earlier review where I said I don t know what to make of Ashbery these days Every year he puts out a new collection of at least superficially similar poems, and every year I buy that book and read it, but at this point I ve lost the ability to distinguish one book from the next And there might not be any fundamental differences between them, because at this point Ashbery seems content to wander around in imaginary worlds he discovered and reported from long ago, but now he s a tourist in those worlds and as an old poet man the very changes in his consciousness wrought by aging are what gives this new take of his on old worlds interest, that and what appears to be a second childhood breaking free from its constraints I wish artists were courageous or foolish enough to keep cranking out work in their old age, because I have an interest in how the creative mind continues to work or not as the physical mind breaks down, or scatters, or dissolves Maybe Ashbery s work isn t as strong or as advanced as it once was, but the pleasure his work gives me as he continues to crank it out with slippery delight in his twilight years is still significant, be this pleasure poetical or pathological.This earlier review is in many ways utter hogwash It s as if I hadn t even read the book let alone counted the OKs , and was simply expatiating on a general impression I had of M Ashbery s later work My wish that artists continued to crank out work well into their dotage still stands, but to suggest that the poems in A Worldly Country are the product of a mind decaying with age is misguided and idiotic Misguided and idiotic utter hogwash Why did I pollute this site with vague generalities based on ignorance Being an idiot I may never know.OK, now that I have kicked my earlier self to the curb let me say a few words about poetry I like poetry as much as I like poems, which means that when I read a book of poetry I do not necessarily look for a single stand out masterpiece of a poem NO MORE MASTERPIECES a poem that encapsulates all concerns and themes of the author into a succinct and self contained whole that is easily packaged and anthologized I like it when poems bleed into each other and form a sort of colony, like aspens in a forest where what looks like a collection of self contained single trees is actually a cluster sprouting from a single underground network of roots, so that a stand of aspens can be rightfully referred to as a single organism This is a quality that is very important when it comes to poetry that is, for the sake of a better term, experimental , where the language used is not the language that we use every day, and where often there is not an attempt to write individual masterpieces, but rather to expound a poetics is discrete units called poems often just for convenience, or simply because it can t go on forever.These thought do not apply to this Ashbery collection, as his experimental days are far behind him, though for an old guy he s spry and surprising, and as his poetics has become so ubiquitous in the poetry world as to become just another convention But still this aspen analogy applies to Ashbery and his poems Almost every poem seems to be about the same thing a mind caught in a reverie of rumination on the passages of time and the experiences and emotions occasioned by being in time and differs only by form, or a clothing of style as it were There is little attempt on M Ashbery s part to write a masterpiece he seems content to be, to reside, in the realm of poetry, with a mind free to wander into the beginning of a poem, and then to wander through it and then to wander back out, where it takes a break perhaps tea and or a scone while reading the work of someone else , and then resume its poetical wanderings freely Yet throughout there is what I can only call the master s touch, with a perfect balance of silliness and melancholy and deftly unorthodox language use and total communion between the mind and the words on the page I know that I have not lived up to the expectations I had when beginning this review, and though I am not happy with it I do think that it is of some interest OK It is still lamentably vague and generalizing, and I have not included any details that could prove that I actually did read it this time around, but I assure you I have read it actually three full times in the past week , though perhaps I remain an idiot The Wordly Country is a late masterpiece, published when M Ashbery was 80 years old It as a whole is a portrayal of a lively mind in an old body writing of life that never ceases to end, that never ceases to begin, and that is nearly unmoored from time itself, awash in a sea of poetry with homespun rafts of poems floating atop it dissolving in sunlight and sea spray and fading beyond horizons that never end, until they end.

  2. says:

    I DON T HAVE PROPER WORDS TO APPRECIATE HOW WONDERFUL THIS BOOK WAS this is one of the best book of poetry i have read seriously previously i have read some of ashbery s poems, but this time it was a wholesome yet extraordinary experience it takes its time for you to settle in, but once you do, it s priceless believe you me

  3. says:

    Couldn t get into these poems A few stuck with me, a few lines did too Meh.

  4. says:

    I don t think Ashbery is for me Or probably I shouldn t have started here.

  5. says:

    Sometimes I think I hate modern male poets This is definitely not true, but it is mostly true.Ashbery recently died this collection was published a decade ago, when he was about 80 You can tell it deals a lot with the past memories, time, and, underneath all that, you know, dying is sorta present I know Ashbery is a Big Deal, and his language certainly can be playful and interesting, but mostly I wasn t too interested I am sad about this, though Old Style Plentiful Up in the clouds they were singing O Promise Me to the birches, who replied in kind Rivers kind of poured over where we had been sitting, and the breeze made as though not to notice any unkindness, the light too pretended nothing was wrong, or that it was all going to be OK some day And yes, we were drunk on love That sure was some summer A Worldly Country So often it happens that the time we turn around in soon becomes the shoal our pathetic skiff will run aground in And just as waves are anchored to the bottom of the sea we must reach the shallows before God cuts us free Also, there is a poem called A Perfect Hat.

  6. says:

    No one upends a reader s expectations and hopes while reading poetry better than Ashbery I love his sense of humor and the way he illuminates the way we strive to make patterns, to make sense of our lives by telling stories which, in the end, only make sense to those on the inside Lesser artists have tried to copy his style, but other poets who attempt to write in this manner usually, to my ears, fall flat There s no gentle surprise, little to no humor, just in your face opaqueness that seems designed to affront and refuse, as opposed to Ashbery s style, which is to wink and grin and let you in on the joke and the sadness of it all The rhyming in the title poem was a complete surprise, entirely delightful, and I especially loved A Kind of Chill and Mottled Tuesday Highly recommended.

  7. says:

    A lake of brambles offered itself like a protective cushion to the outsider, you and me This had been foreseen, but like a migration, took on another sense as it unfolded, the sky Royal Worcester by now, a narrative that will endure for many years, even if no one reads it Class dismissed, he said famously School s out forever Saddle the theremins, love is on the loose.

  8. says:

    Startlingly inaccessible, these poems demand scrutiny like a strange beauty queen, which is often worth the effort But by then the last few spectators will have likely given up Favorites include The Binomial Theorem, It, or Something, Promenade, One of His Nature Poems, And Other Stories.

  9. says:

    A Worldly Country with that strange period in the title is John Ashbery s 24th book of poetry, published in 2007, when he was 79 It s hard to pan a book by an 79 year old, plus this is quite a good book or, anyway, sometimes it is Do some of the poems miss, or do I just miss them It is the greatness of Ashbery that one is uncertain Are we the readers Ashbery deserves Or are his True Readers a race of highly evolved reptiles on the planet Koztika Just before writing this, I listened to a record La Mer by Debussy The puddling rhythms and sudden shifts of chromatic texture just like Ashbery La Mer sounds like it s moving backwards, sometimes, like eddies in a cove Ashbery also writes backward sounding lines, such as All the reckoning is wrong in Promenade Wrong is reckoning the all.is its reversal Let s continue with the poem What the caliph s calipers redeemedisn t meant for us, far outat the edge of Saturn s rings Perhaps Ashbery s subtlest readers live on Tethys a moon of Saturn And what is a worldly country The book s cover, from a precisionist painting by Jean Freilicher called Afternoon in the City, suggests that the worldly country is New York City or at least its rooftops.One of the poems begins In all plays, even Hamlet, the sceneryis the best part.This is a poem called Cliffhanger It goes on Battlements, wintry thicketsforcing their edge on you, cough up their promiseas the verse goes starry.In other words, while you re watching Hamlet, you re also watching the background a castle, a Danish moor Notice he suddenly addresses you in the second person For two hours, you re staring at these pictures, until they cough up their promise Meanwhile, the verse the language of Shakespeare goes starry In other words, it gets a little too flowery.You will leave empty handed,others will know than you.You leave Hamlet feeling like an idiot, because you don t get it.Time s aged frissongets to me and , like micein a pantomime.This is a really bad line, I think It means both I hate getting old and I m sick of pretending I like Shakespeare And then the prompterthrows up his hands in dismay You were mortal,so why didn t you say anything The prompter throwing his hands up to dismay means that Ashbery can t think of the next line of the poem Why didn t you say anything is one of those great quotations from Overheard Speech of 2006 that fills this book.I had certainly begun to lose faith in Cliffhanger by the time I reached the end, which is Now even the farthest windows have gone dark And the dark wants, needs us Thank you for calling.And unexpectedly I doubt it s conveyed here, barely quoting stray lines this finale perfectly completed the mathematical necessities of the poem The equation balanced Ashbery is smarter than me The bad lines were necessary, the way a twist of lemon embellishes a cocktail This is the titular Cliffhanger you expect the actress to fall off the cliff, but at the last minute she s saved.

  10. says:

    i think what i like most about john ashbery is that he baffles me with strong images, careful words, traditional and outlandish poetics, there s a poem right here and i can tell you that i like it but not what it is i could read it to you and tell you what i think is so good but not what it means i know each work is that word for exactly the right reason but i can rarely tell what the reason is.in any case, this is a fine and slim volume of mostly short poems it doesn t overwhelm, the challenges are real but not unswallowable i enjoyed it very much.

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