Outward Bound Ideas

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Location: The City, On the edge

Friday, April 04, 2008

116. John Ashbery - For John Clare

Kind of empty in the way it sees everything, the earth gets
to its feet and salutes the sky. More of a success at it this
time than most others it is. The feeling that the sky might
be in the back of someone's mind. Then there is no telling
how many there are. They grace everything-bush and tree-
to take the roisterer's mind off his caroling-so it's like a
smooth switch back. To what was aired in their previous
conniption fit. There is so much to be seen everywhere
that it's like not getting used to it, only there is so much
it never feels new, never any different. You are standing
looking at that building and you cannot take it all in,
certain details are already hazy and the mind boggles.
What will it all be like in five years' time when you try
to remember? Will there have been boards in between the
grass part and the edge of the street? As long as that couple
is stopping to look in that window over there we cannot
go. We feel like they have to tell us we can, but they never
look our way and they are already gone, gone far into the
  future-the night of time. If we could look at a photograph
of it and say there they are, they never really stopped but
there they are. There is so much to be said, and on the
surface of it very little gets said.
There ought to be room for more things, for a spreading
out, like. Being immersed in the details of rock and field
and slope-letting them come to you for once, and then
meeting them halfway would be so much easier-if they
took an ingenuous pride in being in one's blood. Alas, we
perceive them if at all as those things that were meant to
be put aside-costumes of the supporting actors or voice
trilling at the end of a narrow enclosed street. You can
do nothing with them. Not even offer to pay.
It is possible that finally, like coming to the end of a
long, barely perceptible rise, there is mutual cohesion and
interaction. The whole scene is fixed in your mind, the
music all present, as though you could see each note as
well as hear it. I say this because there is an uneasiness in
things just now. Waiting for something to be over before
you are forced to notice it. The pollarded trees scarcely
bucking the wind-and yet it's keen, it makes you fall
over. Clabbered sky. Seasons that pass with a rush. After
all it's their time too-nothing says they aren't to make
something of it. As for Jenny Wren, she cares, hopping
about on her little twig like she was tryin' to tell us some-
thin', but that's just it, she couldn't even if she wanted to
-dumb bird. But the others-and they in some way must
know too-it would never occur to them to want to, even
if they could take the first step of the terrible journey
toward feeling somebody should act, that ends in utter
confusion and hopelessness, east of the sun and west of the
moon. So their comment is: 'No comment." Meanwhile
the whole history of probabilities is coming to life, starting
in the upper left-hand corner, like a sail.