John Ashbery. The Tennis Court Oath

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The Tennis Court Oath

What had you been thinking about

the face studiously bloodied

heaven blotted region

I go on loving you like water but

there is a terrible breath in the way all of this

You were not elected president, yet won the race

All the way through fog and drizzle

When you read it was sincere the coasts

stammered with unintentional villages the

horse strains fatigued I guess . . . the calls . . .

I worry


the water beetle head

why of course reflecting all

then you redid you were breathing

I thought going down to mail this

of the kettle you jabbered as easily in the yard

you come through but

are incomparable the lovely tent

mystery you don’t want surrounded the real

you dance

in the spring there was clouds


The mulatress approached in the hall—the

lettering easily visible along the edge of the Times

in a moment the bell would ring but there was time

for the carnation laughed here are a couple of “other”


to one in yon house

The doctor and Philip had come over the road

Turning in toward the corner of the wall his hat on

reading it carelessly as if to tell you your fears were justified

the blood shifted you know those walls

wind off the earth had made him shrink

undeniably an oboe now the young

were there there was candy

to decide the sharp edge of the garment

like a particular cry not intervening called the dog “he’s coming! he’s coming” with an emotion felt it sink into peace


there was no turning back but the end was in sight

he chose this moment to ask her in detail about her family and the others

The person. pleaded—“have more of these

not stripes on the tunic—or the porch chairs

will teach you about men—what it means”

to be one in a million pink stripe

and now could go away the three approached the doghouse

the reef. Your daughter’s

dream of my son understand prejudice

darkness in the hole

the patient finished

They could all go home now the hole was dark

lilacs blowing across his face glad he brought you


As You Came from the Holy Land


of western New York state

were the graves all right in their bushings

was there a note of panic in the late August air

because the old man had peed in his pants again

was there turning away from the late afternoon glare

as though it too could be wished away

was any of this present

and how could this be

the magic solution to what you are in now

whatever has held you motionless

like this so long through the dark season

until now the women come out in navy blue

and the worms come out of the compost to die

it is the end of any season


you reading there so accurately

sitting not wanting to be disturbed

as you came from that holy land

what other signs of earth’s dependency were upon you

what fixed sign at the crossroads

what lethargy in the avenues

where all is said in a whisper

what tone of voice among the hedges

what tone under the apple trees

the numbered land stretches away

and your house is built in tomorrow

but surely not before the examination

of what is right and will befall

not before the census

and the writing down of names


remember you are free to wander away

as from other times other scenes that were taking place

the history of someone who came too late

the time is ripe now and the adage

is hatching as the seasons change and tremble

it is finally as though that thing of monstrous interest

were happening in the sky

but the sun is setting and prevents you from seeing it

out of night the token emerges

its leaves like birds alighting all at once under a tree

taken up and shaken again

put down in weak rage

knowing as the brain does it can never come about

not here not yesterday in the past

only in the gap of today filling itself

as emptiness is distributed

in the idea of what time it is

when that time is already past


John Ashberry. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

J.M.Birrin. Шақпақты жырға бір шабыт

Seamus Heaney. John Ashbery-дың поэзиясы

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