The first typescript

[Page 5]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 5

 5 Adele

We children are ashamed of our bodies
But we laugh and, demanded, talk of sex again
And all is well. The waves of morning harshness
Float away like coal-gas into the perennial sky.dele
[Toilet training provokes an instinct of happiness in the adult.]dele
But how much survives? How much of any one of us survives?
The articles we'd collect--stamps of the colonies
With greasy cancellation marks, mauve, magenta and chocolate,
Or funny looking dogs we'd see in the street, or sofa cushions, particularly bright remarks.dele
One man collects bullets. An Indianapolis, Indiana, man collects slingshots of all epochs, and so on.

Subtracted from our collections, though, these go on a little while, collecting aimlessly. We still support them.
But so little energy to tide them over! And up the swollen sands
Staggers the darkness fiend, with the storm fiend close behind him!
True that Ture, melodious tolling does go on in that awful pandemonium,dele
Certain resonances are not utterly displeasing to the frightened terrified eardrumdele
Some paroxysms are dinning of tambourine, others suggest piano room or organ loft

For the most dissonant night charms us, even after death. This, after all, may be happiness: tuba notes awash on the great flood, ruptures of xylophone, violins, limpets, grace notes, the musical instrument called serpent, viola da gambas, aeolian harps, pinball machines, electric drills, que sais-je encore!dele
The performance has rapidly reached your ear; silent and tear-stained, in the post-mortem shock, you stand listening, awash
With memoiries of hair in particular, part of the welling that is part of you,
The gurgling of harp, cymbal, glockenspiel, triangle, temple block, English horn and metronome! And still no presentment, not feeling of pain before or after. The passage sustains, does not give. And {Thus} you have come far indeed.dele

Yet to go from "not interesting" to "old and uninteresting,"
To be surrounded by friends, though late in life,
To hear the wings of the spirit, {though} far...dele
Why do I hurriedly undrown myself to cut you down?
"I am yesterday," and my fault is personal, eternal currentdele
   yourI do not expect myXX constant attendance, knowing myself insufficient for your present demandsdele
And I have a dim {presentiment} that I am that other "I" with which we began.dele
My cheeks as blank walls to your tears and eagerness
Fondling that other, as though you had let him forever get away.

The evidence of the visual henceforth replaced
By the great shadow of trees falling over {an active} life.dele

The great problem is a child's devotion
To this normal and shapeless entity...dele

And the young polyphonist seizes a penholder, to writedele
Across that dirt rose that is our "scraps," the little punishment boothdele
Forgotten as the words fly briskly across bringing meaningXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX each timedele
Bringing down meaning as snow from a low sky, or rabbits flushed from a wood.
How strange that the narrow perspective lines
Always seem to meet, although parallel, and that an insane ghost could do this,
Could make the house seem so much farther in the distance, as bands of yellowXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXdele