I was sorry to hear that John Ashbery died today. Though not terribly sorry: 90 is an age we can all hope for and, anyway, a poet of worth never really dies, not in the way that you or I will.
Sara Bader and I included excerpts of three of Ashbery's distinctive, enigmatic poems in Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery—"The Skaters," "The Ecclesiast," and, my favorite, "The Bunaglows," whose lines bear repeating on this day:
For only you could watch yourself so patiently from afar
The way God watches a sinner on the path to redemption,
Sometimes disappearing into valleys, but always on the way.
For it all builds up into something, meaningless or meaningful
As architecture, because planted and then abandoned when completed,
To live afterward, in sunlight and shadow, a certain amount of years.
Who cares about what was there before? There is no going back.
For standing still means death, and life is moving on,
Moving on toward death. But sometimes standing still is also life.