Ashbery Still Truckin’


Stevens, Yeats, Hardy—only a handful of poets continued after a long career to write great poems until the day they died. Eliot petered out early. Wordsworth went soft. Keats didn’t have the chance. Ashbery published his first book of poems in 1953; the first essay in his Selected Prose was originally published in 1957, and its account of Gertrude Stein feels irrepressibly fresh. We may have to wait a long time for Ashbery’s collected prose, given that we are still waiting for Eliot’s. In the meantime, Where Shall I Wander affords us the rare opportunity to observe not only a poet writing at the peak of his powers—Ashbery has done that before—but a poet still discovering how to sound like himself.


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