Saturday, September 11, 2010

John Ashbery on PBS News














A Perfect Hat

I forget what it is I would rather be doing.
Floral and verbal, I am in the thick
of what I would rather be doing, jumping off a cliff,
rousing subordinates. There are just so many things
one would rather be caught out doing, like measuring the tree,
the swift shadow of which menaces us and bluebirds.
Oh the mill sang of many things but its wheel
was always rolling whether you noticed it or not.
The wheel that is still today but much larger.
It cautioned us to leave but we slept
the exact duration of the idea that never leaves us now.

And this is the perfect poem after teaching Personification on Saturday 11th September, so I thought I would post Ashbery's poem here. During class, we had a long discussion about 'pathetic fallacy' and the difference between this kind of trope and personification. I felt that if we were to worry about such terminology as 'pathetic fallacy' this might stifle our creativity while writing personification. Eventually, we reasoned, that we could attribute human feelings to a poem. Here Ashbery attributes "thinking" (or is it some kind of annoyance for the poet?) to the voice of the hat. Rainer Maria Rilke attributes the emotion of 'loss of freedom' in his poem, The Panther.


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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @ http://issuu.com/evangelyne/​​docs/joyous_lake/

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