Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The seduction of boys vii: Atlas Shrugged in public

An American youth doesn't have
to be very bright to realise,
he is mentored every day to re-
fine his aggressions to surpass
the power of others. Now he sees
this instruction embodied in nom-
inations for higher office of a
doing their best to justify them-
selves as saviours of the nation.
Who is watching to see what warp
this shock inflicts?

At first it came easily, with the knowledge of the shadow line
Picking its way through various landscapes before coming
To stand far from you, to bless you incidentally
In sorting out what was best for it, and most suitable.

Like snow having second thoughts and coming back
To be wary about this, to embellish that, as though life were a
At which work got done. So we wiggled in our separate
And stayed in them for a time. After something has passed

You begin to see yourself as you would look to yourself on a
Appearing to someone. But to whom? Ah, that's just it,
To have the manners, and the look that comes from having a
Isn't enough. But that "not enough" isn't to be worn like a

To be briefly noticed, yet among whom should it be seen? I
Thought about these things in years; that's my luck.
In time even the rocks will grow. And if you have curled and
Your innocence once too often, what attitude isn't then really

John Ashbery
Punishing the Myth
  Shadow Train
  Collected Poems, 1956-1987
op. cit.

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