Spring 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1956 |

A Long Novel

What will his crimes become, now that her hands Have gone to sleep?  He gathers deeds In the pure air, the agent Of their factual excesses.  He laughs as she inhales. If it could have ended before It began—the sorrow, the snow Dropping, dropping its fine regrets. The myrtle dries about his lavish brow. He stands quieter than the day, a breath In which all evils are one. He is the purest air.  But her patience, The imperative Become, trembles Where hands have been before.  In the foul air Each snowflake seems a Piranesi Dropping in the past; his words are heavy With their final meaning. Milady! Mimosa! So the end Was the same: the discharge of spittle Into frozen air.  Except that, in a new Humorous landscape, without music, Written by music, he knew he was a saint, While she touched all goodness As golden hair, knowing its goodness Impossible, and waking and waking As it grew in the eyes of the beloved.

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John Ashbery is the author of over twenty books of poetry. He has received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award.

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Befuddled

By John Ashbery

What will his crimes become, now that her hands Have gone to sleep?  He gathers deeds In the pure air, the agent Of their factual excesses.  He laughs as she […]

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