And you see, both of us were right, though nothing
Has somehow come to nothing; the avatars
Of our conforming to the rules and living
Around the home have made -- well, in a sense, "good citizens" of us,
Brushing the teeth and all that, and learning to accept
The charity of the hard moments as they are doled out,
For this is action, this not being sure, this careless
Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,
Making ready to forget, and always coming back
To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
From John Ashbery's "Soonest Mended" (Commonplace Book)
Don't worry about the meaning of this passage at first. Just read it out loud a few times and listen for the rhythms, and the vowels, and the subtle shifts in tone. It seems quite goofy (brushing teeth?), and then the last four lines punch through your defenses making you feel sentimental and hopeful and sad without having any idea what was just said.