Image by Miriam Berkley

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 believe it. In school
All the thought got combed out:

What was left was like a field.
Shut your eyes, and you can feel it for miles around.

Now open them on a thin vertical path.
It might give us - what? - some flowers soon?


from Selected Poems (Carcanet, 1998), copyright © John Ashbery 1998, used by permission of the author.

Recordings

John Ashbery Reading from his poems

1The Instruction Manual

2Some Trees

3For John Clare

4Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

5What Is Poetry

6At North Farm

7The Songs We Know Best

8Landscape (After Baudelaire)

9Just Walking Around

10More Pleasant Adventures

11Hotel Lautreamont

12This Room

13If You Said You Would Come With Me

14A Linnet

15The Bobinski Brothers

16The History of My Life

17A Nice Presentation

18Disagreeable Glimpses

19Theme Park Days

20View of Delft

21The Lightning Conductor

22I Asked Mr. Dithers Whether It Was time Yet He Said No to Wait

23Chinese Whispers

24Local Legend

25Sir Gammer Vans

Books & cds by John Ashbery