John Ashbery: On The Inside Looking In by Roger Gilbert

1960s: Days of Rage

Hudson: A gloom one knows. Dining room.

“Some poets invite us into their homes. W. B. Yeats’s Thoor Ballylee and Robinson Jeffers’s Tor House figure prominently in their poetry while remaining coldly majestic edifices. Not so Gertrude Stein’s Paris apartment, whose rooms and objects spark the verbal fireworks of ‘Tender Buttons,’ or W. H. Auden’s Kirchstetten cottage, lovingly displayed from bathroom to attic in ‘Thanksgiving for a Habitat.’ James Merrill’s Stonington residence plays an intimate role in his work, especially the flame-colored salon in which the poet and his partner contacted the spirit world. Attentive readers of A.R. Ammons could practically draw a map of his backyard at 606 Hanshaw Road, though they’d be hard pressed to describe the inside of the house. Donald Hall’s Eagle Pond farmhouse is a vivid presence in his poems, helped along by copious prose sketches. John Ashbery is not exactly that kind of poet…

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