John Ashbery was a prolific American poet and writer. Besides bagging in the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ for poetry in 1976, he earned almost every major award and accolade in America for poetry. However, his works and thoughts are controversial. He was renowned for his intricacy and postmodern convolution. He once stated that he wished his thoughts and works to reach as many people as possible and not be an exclusive discourse with himself. We have compiled some notable, quotes and thoughts by John Ashbery, the man who had a larger vocabulary than many other famous poets. Read through the corpus of famous, noteworthy, meaningful and thought-provoking quotes and sayings by John Ashbery which have been collected from his writings, poems, books, thoughts, interviews, works and life.
I'm heading for a clean-named place like Wisconsin, and mad as a jack-o'-lantern, will get there without help and nosy proclivities.
Where then shall hope and fear their objects find?
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.
I often wonder if I am suffering from some mental dysfunction because of how weird and baffling my poetry seems to so many people and sometimes to me too.
I want a bedroom near the sky, an astrologer's cave
Where I can fashion eclogues that are chaste and grave.
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.
Most reckless things are beautiful in some way, and recklessness is what makes experimental art beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibilities that they are founded on nothing.
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.
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.
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 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.
How many people came and stayed a certain time, Uttered light or dark speech that became part of you Like light behind windblown fog and sand Filtered and influenced by it, until no part Remains that is surely you.
And so we turn the page over. To think of starting. This is all there is.
I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them.
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
Life is beautiful. He who reads that
As in the window of some distant, speeding train
Knows what he wants, and what will befall.
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.
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.
I would like to please the reader, and I think that surprise has to be an element of this, and that may necessitate a certain amount of teasing. To shock the reader is something else again. That has to be handled with great care if you're not going to alienate and hurt him, and I'm firmly against that, just as I disapprove of people who dress with that in mind--dye their hair blue and stick safety pins through their noses and so on.
One can lose a good idea by not writing it down, yet by losing it one can have it: it nourishes other asides it knows nothing of, would not recognize itself in, yet when the negotiations are terminated, speaks in the acts of that progenitor, and does recognize itself, is grateful for not having done so earlier.
One listens to a piece of great music, say, and feels deeply moved by it, and wants to put this feeling into words, but it can't be put into words. That's what - the music has already supplied the meaning, and words will just be superfluous after that. But it's that kind of verbal meaning that can't be verbalized that I try to get at in poetry.
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.
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.
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.
We might realize that the present moment may be one of an eternal or sempiternal series of moments, all of which will resemble it because, in some ways, they are the present, and won't in other ways, because the present will be the past by that time.
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
If you need a certain vitality you can only supply it yourself, or there comes a point, anyway, when no one's actions but your own seem dramatically convincing and justifiable in the plot that the number of your days concocts.
It never seems to occur to anyone that each reader is different, and that even those who might be said to resemble each other will each bring an individual set of experiences and references to their reading, and interpret and misinterpret it according to these.
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.
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.
How funny your name would be if you could follow it back to where the first person thought of saying it, naming himself that, or maybe some other persons thought of it and named that person. It would be like following a river to its source, which would be impossible. Rivers have no source.
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
Its a bit mad. Too bad, I mean, that getting to know each just for a fleeting second Must be replaced by unperfect knowledge of the featureless whole Like some pocket history of the world, so general As to constitute a sob or wail
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.
My feeling is that most political poetry is preaching to the choir, and that the people who are going to make the political changes in our lives are not the people who read poetry, unfortunately. Poetry not specifically aimed at political revolution, though, is beneficial in moving people toward that kind of action, as well as other kinds of action. A good poem makes me want to be active on as many fronts as possible.
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.
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.
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?
The promise of learning is a delusion.... Tomorrow would alter the sense of what had already been learned, that the learning process is extended in this way, so that from this standpoint none of us ever graduates from college, for time is an emulsion, and probably thinking not to grow up is the brightest kind of maturity for us, right now at any rate.