Unpublished poems and fragments from the first typescript:

Evenings in Rochefort


Two typescript pages, letter format (laid paper). Undated. The last page or pages are missing.

Three correction campaigns at least: (1) lead pencil, (2) black and blue ball-point pen (possibly in immediate succession) and (3) black ink.

These are the first two pages of John Ashbery's translation of Pierre Martory's poem “Les Soirées de Rochefort,” the complete text of which is given below. It was first published in Locus solus, 3-4, 1961, and was republished in The Landscapist: Selected poems of Pierre Martory, The Sheep Meadow: Rhinebeck, NY. 2008.

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, “Evenings in Rochefort”

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Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, “Evenings in Rochefort”

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Evenings in Rochefort

caps.Now that those houses have been closed by lawdele
((A former marine could think himself in Chinadele
 (Beneath the orange glow forgotten lanternsdele
At twenty, far from Rochefort, the heart breaks...dele
... A glass of rum, a record, a kiss suffices.dele
The well-heeled ensigns's debauch debauches behind the screendele
But the sleeve barren of stripes and theXXX cap with reddele
Pompom, in the flaseXXXXX false neXX day of leonXXXX neon-reflectors shows exhibitsdele
The Hand under obi, eye on the string of monthsdele
That leads byXXXXXXXX via canal, harbor and crossed Eequatordele
Connects the round gate door with the Place Colbertdele
slantedFar from the drawn out look of knowing dolls).dele
For here if women hide behind a mask
——How insipid is the kiss of nauseous red;dele
The caress and cheek are slippery under salves;dele
Their venal art is like some stagnant flower
When, nude, succombing to lucrative emotion,dele
They laugh at some naive lad's disordered ardordele
Back there they knew that once the raw silk is was doffeddele
(The hours are were reckoned laid at cost of suns of feversXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX by fevers and by suns)dele
How toFragileXXXXXXX Ivory, black ribbons, fragile beneath the fingersdele
To play (?)Playing the instrument, expert at the taskdele
To The make the cutter, swerve the frigate pitchdele
Tilt the azimuth, file the mizzen-royal mast,dele
Accompanying the slow climb to the crow's nest
With a damp concert, viol, flute and oboe))dele
caps.The lads boys of this harbor do not know the sea onlydele
(((Of aX former barques beached amid lively reedsdele
Which, erstwhile brought to caulker and to hammerdele
Their hulls to scrape of mother-of pearl and coraldele
...Hhenceforth in the Museum a model prolongsdele
With its winches, rigging, decorative flagsdele
(Like hieroglyphics before Champolliondele
Ill-washed symbol of what it represents)—dele
The mMemory of sounds and smells at in the Arsenaldele
The cry of workmen discovering in the hold
A flower forgotten by a Tahitian girl
((As decked with straw my brother mon frère Yves might see herdele
The essential by ebony tresses obfuscateddele
An insular queen and virile truth to tell
AzWas indeed if others Azyades can be creditedXXXXXXXX trusted)) Azyadedele
So that with its cobbles its hard sharp angles the citydele
Linked with the open sea by routes too long
((Sister of dC that where Marie, the new new BenerXXXXX Berenice,dele
Bidsade farewell to Louis who weeps wept although a king;dele
Of the other from which the last crusade departed
That slowly waves time removed from notions of timedele
                                      the wavesdele
RevivedXXXXXXX Reviveds already dead, already lost,...)))dele

Patience for a little bronze against the skin

BeautifulDDDDDDDDD From As a place where quoits are played near leisure-net,dele
Ignorant local bodyXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX   patience for a dele
Svelte Lithe local form of harshness ignorant     asperitiesdele
Narcissusesi admiring themselves in othersSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSS their image in others,dele
Which they wear brandish so little noon harasses them a weighty pain in their lower [???]dele
Beneath the small triangle ofSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKS Beneath the slim triangle of scant decency;dele

Which at the rolling of ocher on green at the moviesdele
(Lacks nevertheless salt on lip on cutdele
Together and with the horizon which shuts its compassdele
In the sky the myriad of familiar stars
A guide whose beacons turn fright blue and evendele
Even The continual walking attention of the internal inner eardele
  SwingBalance of the hip and of the confident foot assureddele
Equilibrium Or sleep, the hollow of the wandering shell hulldele
Locates the heart at the heart of invented routes)dele
Know love only as iSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKSKS Experience love only as a daily dream:dele
Fragments, always cut out of the hottest scene, the hottest scene always cut outdele
That crouching you tear away decipher from the comma'ed partitiondele
Unknown America's hygiene ignored planet truly livable planet[?] livable   Re-Assemblingdele
Impotent Powerless emperors badly married princes Resembling in the dark, to scandal voweddele
Old lovers one on the other burning a sad past
Open stomachs baptised by a delirious priest...dele
And for, alone to live alone in this paper palacedele
The insolent face thatXXXX Sshe allows one to admiredele
((But alert beneath the skirt and the bitter bodice, pleasingdele
areCurves reserved for conjugal delightdele
With roof, bed XXXX burl-walnut bed, tall wardrobe  and tallCCCKCKCKCKCXXXXXXXXXXXX and tall armoiredele
With mirror, machine where perspiration foams,dele
The football scores when foamXXXX steams the soup tureen,dele
Wan world within range oXXXXXXXf the easy range of weary gazes,dele
And the same beaten track from dawnXXXX dusk till dawndele
The blunt dulled surprise beneath the trousseau sheet,dele
Clouded refuge Refuge clouding: regular drunkenness delightdele
Which multiplies dismal humors gluts the liver
Erects remorse, curl-papers at the her temples,dele
Empties the wallet and engenders monsters
(EyeeXXXX With drooling eyes, rubber gum bones and ill-sealed skulldele
A piercèed heart toXX that's is cured across the Atlanticdele
After shame and honor of public collects)dele
Too many tiny coffins in XX rotting holesXXXXX in holesdele
That must be decked with flowersed each November first))dele
When one you can look at contemplate, waxen behind the glass,dele
When one you can go cruising in the cove of perfumesdele
When you touch the fold they have in their armpits When you hear pleasure sung shout from carrouselsdele
When you lick the pink and sepia at their neck
(In the grain of some two-bit photogravure)dele
When you wander among the intermingled algae,dele
Turning, mad wild compass in the ill-guarded calm whose calm is hard to keepdele
Black anchor-and they cut the chain, and howldele
In vain, so many vessels blood vessels veins suddenly swollen with blooddele

caps.Gather each evening theirer where former swamps once a swampdele
(To the gray wallsXXXXX walls where only a watchtower callsdele
to Memory) stars a sky with a water-lilyies,dele
((As around meat will buzzXXXXXXXXX a squad of flies,; arounddele
Around the flowerXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX A lonely flower emerging from level wheatdele
A dozen bees the hive being swept away bumble-bees when the hive is [???];dele

Pierre Martory (translation: John Ashbery):

Les Soirées de Rochefort / Evenings in Rochefort

((Un ancien marsouin pouvait s'y croire en Chine
((A former marine could think himself in China
(sous d'orange lueurs, lanternes oubliées
(in the orange light that falls from unwatched lanterns
—à vingt ans, loin de Rochefort, le coeur se brise...
—at twenty, far from Rochefort, the heart breaks ...
...il suffit d'un tafia, d'un disque, d'un baiser:
...a glass of rum, a record, a kiss suffice;
l'enseigne aisé sous le paravent s'acoquine,
the well-heeled ensign's debauched behind a screen
mais la manche d'or vierge et le bonnet à rose
but the sleeve bare of stripes and cap with red
rouge, au faux jour des boules-diamants expose
pompom, in false neon day, exhibits
la main sous l'obi, l'oeil à ce fil de mois fixé
the hand under the obi, eye on the string
qui, par canal, escale et passage de Ligne,
of months that via canal, port, Equator
relie la porte ronde à la place Colbert
connects the round door with the Place Colbert
loin du regard tiré des savantes poupées).
far from the slanted look of knowing dolls).
Si les femmes ici sous un masque se cachent
If here the women hid behind a mask
—qu'il est plat leur baiser de rouge dégoûtant;
—how insipid is their kiss of nasty red;
la caresse et la joue glissent sous les onguents;
the caress and cheek are slippery under salves;
leur art vénal se compare à fleur croupissante
their venal art is like some stagnant flower
lorsque, nues, se prêtant à profitable émoi,
when, nude, a prey to lucrative emotion,
elles rient du gars naïf, l'ardeur désordonnée—
they mock some naive lad's disordered ardor—
elles savaient là-bas, la grège soie quittée,
back there they knew how, once the raw silk doffed,
(les heures se payaient en fièvres, en soleils)
(the hours were paid back with fevers and with suns)
fragiles sous le doigt, ivoires, noirs rubans
ivory, black ribbons, fragile beneath the fingers,
jouer de l'instrument, à la besogne expertes,
to play the instrument, expert at the task,
faire virer le cotre et tanguer la frégate,
to make the cutter swerve, the frigate pitch,
basculer l'azimuth, limer le cacatois,
to tilt the azimuth, file the mizzenmast,
accompagnant la lente ascension à la hune,
accompanying their slow climb to the crow's net
d'un humide concert, viole, flûte et hautbois))
with a damp concert, viol, flute, and oboe))
LES GARÇONS DE CE PORT ne connaissent la mer
THE BOYS OF THIS PORT only knew the sea
(((d'anciennes nefs parmi les roseaux vifs s'envasent
(((derelicts sink in mud amid living reeds
qui, naguère, apportaient au calfat, au marteau,
that erstwhile brought to caulker and to hammer
leur coque à décaper de nacre et de coraux
their hulls to scrape off mother-of-pearl and coral
...désormais, au Musée, un modèle prolonge
...henceforth, in the Museum, a model prolongs
—avec ses cabestans, ses pavois, ses haubans,
—with its winches, ringing, decorative flags
(comme un hiéroglyphe avant Champollion
(like a hieroglyphic before Champollion
symbole mal lavé de ce qu'il représente)—
ill-washed symbol of what it represents)—
le souvenir d'odeurs, de bruits à l'Arsenal,
the memory of sounds and smells in the Arsenal,
le cri des ouvriers découvrant dans la cale
the cry of workmen finding in the hold
une fleur oubliée par quelque vahiné
a flower forgotten by a Tahitian girl
((telle, parée de paille eût pu voir Mon Frère Yves
((as, decked with straw, Mon Frère Yves might have seen her
—l'essentiel offusqué par d'ébènes cheveux,—
—her essential tresses obfuscated—
une reine insulaire, à vrai dire virile
an island queen, and masculine in truth
(le fût bien, si l'on en croit d'autres, Azyadé))
(as was, according to some, Azayadé))
pour qu'avec ses pavés, ses angles durs, la ville
so that the town, its cobbles and sharp angles
au grand large liée par de trop longs chemins
linked to the open sea by routes too long
(soeur de celle où Marie, nouvelle Bérénice,
(sister of the one where Marie, new Bérénice,
dit adieu à Louis qui pleure pourtant roi;
took leave of Louis, weeping though a king;
de l'autre d'où partit la dernière croisade,
and of that from which the last crusade departed,
que lentement le temps des vagues écarta)
since then from the waves by time slowly subtracted)
ressuscite, déjà morte, déjà perdue ...)))
may revive, already dead, already lost...)))
qu'à jeux de grâce autour d'un filet à loisir,
though games of quoits around a net for play,
patience pour un peu de bronze sur la peau,
patience for a little bronze upon the skin,
beau corps d'ici, d'ailleurs ignorant les rudesses,
svelte local forms, of foreign asperities
Narcisses admirant leur image en autrui,
ignorant, Narcissi admiring their reflections
plomb pesant douleur dans leurs plus basses parures
in others, leaden pain in those low trimmings
qu'ils arborent, si peu que midi les harcèle,
they brandish as soon as noon harasses them,
sous le triangle étroit d'une infime pudeur;
under scant decency's slim triangle;
qu'au roulement de vert sur ocre au cinéma
from green turning to ocher in the movies
(manque pourtant le sel sur lèvre, sur coupure,
(lacking, however, are salt on lip, on cut
ensemble, et l'horizon qui ferme son compas,
alike, the horizon which shuts up its compass,
la myriade au ciel d'étoiles familières,
in the sky the myriad of familiar stars,
même le continuel éveil d'oreille interne,
even the inner ear's constant attention,
balance de la hanche et du pied assurée,
equilibrium of hip and foot both thus assured,
ou le sommeil, le creux de l'errante coquille
or sleep, hollow of the erring cockleshell,
situe le coeur au coeur des routes traversées)
locates the heart at the heart of traveled routes)
fragments, toujours coupés de la plus chaude scène,
fragments, the hottest scene deleted always,
qu'accroupi l'on déchiffre aux cloisons à virgule
that, crouching, you decipher from the comma'ed partition
—Amérique ignorée, planète bien vivable—
—American hygiene unknown, O livable planet—
rassemblant dans le noir, au scandale voués,
re-assembling in the dark, to scandal vowed,
empereurs impuissants, princes mal mariés,
impotent potentates, princes poorly mated,
vieux amants brûlants l'un sur l'autre un passé triste,
old lovers burning a sad past on each other,
ventres ouverts qu'un prêtre délirant baptise...
ripped wombs baptized by a delirious priest...
et pour, seul habiter ce palais de papier
and, so as to live alone in this paper palace
le visage moqueur qu'Elle laisse admirer
the insolent face She allows you to admire
((mais sous la jupe alerte et le corsage amène,
((but alert beneath the skirt and pleasing bodice
des rondeurs réservées au bonheur conjugal
are curves reserved for conjugal delight
avec toit, lit de ronce de noyer, armoire
with roof, burl walnut bed and tail armoire
à miroir, machine où mousse la sueur,
with mirror; machine where perspiration foams;
liste de matchs gagnés quand la soupière fume,
the football scores when steams the soup tureen;
monde blême à portée des regards fatigués,
a wan world within range of weary gazes;
et le même chemin du soir jusqu'au matin,
and the same beaten track from dusk till dawn;
la surprise émoussée sous le drap du trousseau,
the blunted surprise beneath the trousseau sheet;
refuge louchissant: l'ivresse régulière
clouded refuge: regular delight
qui multiplie la morne humeur, engorge le foie,
that multiplies dull humors, gluts the liver,
qui dresse le remords, papillottes aux tempes,
erects remorse, curl-papers at her temples,
qui vide l'escarcelle et engendre les monstres
empties the wallet and engenders monsters
(l'oeil bavant, l'os de gomme, un crâne mal scellé,
(with drooling eyes, gum bones and ill-sealed skull,
un coeur percé qu'on fait guérir outre-Atlantique,
a pierced heart that's cured across the Atlantic
après honte et honneur de collectes publiques)
after the shame and honor of public collects)
trop de petits cercueils dans des trous pourissant,
too many tiny coffins rotting in holes,
qu'il faut aller fleurir chaque Premier novembre))
which must be flowered each November first))
quand on peut contempler, de cire sous la vitre
when you can view them, waxen behind glass,
quand on peut croiser dans la crique des parfums,
when you can cruise in the safe cove of perfumes,
quand on touche le pli qu'elles ont à l'aisselle,
when you can touch the wrinkle they have in their armpits,
quand on chante plaisir à gueule de manège,
when pleasure bawls from the carrousel's microphone,
quand on lèche le rose et le bistre à leur cou
when you lick the pink and sepia at their neck
(dans les grains, pour cent francs, de l'héliogravure)
(in the grain of some two-bit photogravure)
quand on erre parmi les algues emmêlées,
when you wander among the intermingling algae,
tournant, boussole folle au calme mal gardé,
turning, wild compass whose calm is hard to seize,
l'ancre noire—et l'on coupe la chaîne, et l'on hurle
black anchor—and they cut the chain, they howl
en vain, tant de vaisseaux gonflés de sang, soudain;
vainly, so many vessels now swell with blood;
SE GROUPENT CHAQUE SOIR là où l'ancien marais
GATHER EACH EVENING there where the former swamp
(jusqu'aux murs dont une seule échauguette appelle
(up to ramparts where only a watchtower calls
le souvenir) étoile un ciel de nénuphars,
to memory) stars a sky with water lilies,
((comme autour d'une viande une escouade de mouches;
((as, around meat, a squad of flies; around
autour de la fleur seule émergeant des blés ras,
a lonely flower emerging from level wheat
une dizaine de bourdons, la ruche balayée;
ten bumblebees, while their hive is being swept;
d'un buisson par la chatte amoureuse arrosé,
around a bush an amorous she-cat's peed on
les frôleurs félins, la moustache électrisée;
cat-lechers, electricity in their whiskers;
de la cloche où se meurt la captive piéride
around the glassbell of a dying Pieridae
(un enfant ayant lu Fabre au soir s'en amuse)
(a child who's read Fabre amuses himself one evening)
l'essaim de papillons que le verre ne leurre;
the swarm of butterflies by the glass unfooled;
d'une flûte ambulante et vers le fleuve mue,
around the strolling flute moved riverwards
les gros rats de harlem et les petits garçons))
the giant rats and little boys of Hamelin))
et butent d'une rive à l'autre de la rue:
and lurch from one bank to the other of the street:
étourneaux dans le ciel (tel l'ouragan déploie
starlings in the sky (as a hurricane unfolds
sa noire écharpe à l'heure où le jour se prolonge)
its ebony scarf at that hour when day lingers)
bousculant les passants, arrêtant les voitures,
jostling pedestrians, stopping automobiles,
criant des mots où traine une ordure éventée,
yelling cuss-words whose sting has long gone flat
(sans voir le haussement d'épaule des témoins,
(oblivious of the witnesses' shrugged shoulders
sans entendre l'écho de leur voix sur les murs
and the echo of their own voices against the walls
ouverts où prestement le père encore sévère
open where nimbly a father, still severe,
repousse dans le noir des cuisines l'enfant)
pushes his child back into the dark kitchen)
ou, posant leur divagatoire agitation
or, laying aside their wandering agitation
en statue de cet âge au milieu de l'asphalte,
like modern statues reigning in the center
trônent, princes muets, de silence saisis,
of the asphalt, dumb princes, by silence overtaken,
prêts même à se coucher LE LONG DE LA CHAUSSÉE,
ready even to lie down ALONG THE PAVEMENT,
à mourir, lourds du milliard de leurs descendants.
to die, heavy with billions of their descendants.