Peli Grietzer is kind of thrillingly good on one of my very favorite poems, Ashbery’s “At North Farm”, especially
the way that things done for the sake of some eschatological hope or fear end up sort of indistinguishable from normal minor daily habits after enough iterations of the eschatological thing not happening.
I have posted “At North Farm” in the blog before, but why not again? Poetry is written to be repeated.
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?
Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?
Each time I read this there’s something new — this time, the way “sometimes, \\ Sometimes and always” reads as a list of three things, the first two identical.