Planisphere, by John Ashbery. New York: HarperCollins/Ecco Press, 2009.

There is one poem in Planisphere I would love to have written. I see it as an apogee of Ashbery’s art, toward which all combinations of rhetoric and slippage, on their elliptical path, tend. This is language art at its finest. I’ll leave it at that:


You don’t see so much of these anymore,
not see so much of this. There were others
who saw more. Innocence is cool,
he offered. Now not so much.
Innocence is the finish. Through all our
wide day it stressed. It was foolish to argue,
idle to come undone. The post arrived.
It all failed. All failed somewhere. [104]

- - -