Discovering John Ashbery: “What is Poetry”

“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 believed 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?


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