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Late Echo

by John Ashbery

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.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.

Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.

John Ashbery was, at the time of his death in 2017, regarded as one of the most important American poets of our era. His poetry took many forms throughout his career, ranging from challenging, almost nonsensical collages of found texts to near-classical long poems that reflected on philosophical themes. Distraction and postponement of meaning were central preoccupations of his work, as was the fluid, ongoing, open nature of identity.

Submitted by: David Chirico