Thursday

John Ashbery revising "Three Poems"


He puts a line through the sentence "At this point an event of such glamor and such radiance took place that you forgot the name all over again," but later he changes his mind and restores it. He crosses out "chimpanzee" and substitutes "tame bear." He crosses out "Pay attention to this passage, it could mean war." He crosses out "It is like being 'taken around' by a guide, or like visiting a big house on a hill before its contents are auctioned. There is so much one may wish to learn, and it all stops here—in the head." He rereads a little stanza he wrote on the first page and decides that it has to go:
When you flushed the toilet
And the shit boiled up
You said, Now is the time to act,
Act! Before the turds of your endurance
Disappear forever, say something,
Anything! But you live by avoiding
From left to right, carving a road so,
Old man.
New Yorker profile by Larissa MacFarquhar

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why he cut this. Also, reading about him revising has me wanting to try to be courageous in my own revising...

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