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A Worldly Country
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A Worldly Country

by John Ashbery
 

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Thrill of a Romance

It's different when you have hiccups.
Everything is—so many glad hands competing for your attention, a scarf, a puff of soot,
or just a blast of silence from a radio.
What is it? That's for you to learn to your dismay when, at the end of a long queue in the cafeteria, tray in hand, they tell you the gate closed down after

Overview

Thrill of a Romance

It's different when you have hiccups.
Everything is—so many glad hands competing for your attention, a scarf, a puff of soot,
or just a blast of silence from a radio.
What is it? That's for you to learn to your dismay when, at the end of a long queue in the cafeteria, tray in hand, they tell you the gate closed down after the Second World War. Syracuse was declared capital of a nation in malaise, but the directorate had other, hidden goals. To proclaim logic a casualty of truth was one.

Everyone's solitude (and resulting promiscuity)
perfumed the byways of villages we had thought civilized.
I saw you waiting for a streetcar and pressed forward.
Alas, you were only a child in armor. Now when ribald toasts sail round a table too fair laid out, why the consequences are only dust, disease and old age. Pleasant memories are just that. So I channel whatever into my contingency, a vein of mercury that keeps breaking out, higher up, more on time every time. Dirndls spotted with obsolete flowers,
worn in the city again, promote open discussion.

Editorial Reviews

Time Out New York
“With this latest collection, A Worldly Country, the prolific author continues to cement his place in the canon.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061173844
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/05/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,363,085
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 8.94(h) x 0.29(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Worldly Country

A Worldly Country

Not the smoothness, not the insane clocks on the square,
the scent of manure in the municipal parterre,
not the fabrics, the sullen mockery of Tweety Bird,
not the fresh troops that needed freshening up. If it occurred
in real time, it was OK, and if it was time in a novel
that was OK too. From palace and hovel
the great parade flooded avenue and byway
and turnip fields became just another highway.
Leftover bonbons were thrown to the chickens
and geese, who squawked like the very dickens.
There was no peace in the bathroom, none in the china closet
or the banks, where no one came to make a deposit.
In short all hell broke loose that wide afternoon.
By evening all was calm again. A crescent moon
hung in the sky like a parrot on its perch.
Departing guests smiled and called, "See you in church!"
For night, as usual, knew what it was doing,
providing sleep to offset the great ungluing
that tomorrow again would surely bring.
As I gazed at the quiet rubble, one thing
puzzled me: What had happened, and why?
One minute we were up to our necks in rebelliousness,
and the next, peace had subdued the ranks of hellishness.

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.

A Worldly Country. Copyright © by John Ashbery. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including Quick Question; Planisphere; Notes from the Air; A Worldly Country; Where Shall I Wander; and Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. He lives in New York.

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