The first typescript

[Page 10]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 10

the importance of       
alabaster beetles 

(And Helga, in the minuscule apartment in Jersey Citydele
Is wearing the same kind of violet dress, the color of deathdele
Promulgated to the rank of blossoms, is drawing breath againdele
Against the dark fires of the city, fear and its implementsdele
Pursuing, once and for all, all chance of rest. And would enterdele
The quiet years, a transparent block set down in the middle of lifedele
As in a suburb. But alas, life is carelessness.dele
And the violet, colorless depths of that cube but repeateddele
As though by accident, in fringes here and there,dele
On some sudden ledge. Or in the faded backs of a musical albumdele
On the piano rack, raft of the windsdele

And Helga, in the miserable apartment in Jersey City
Is reacting violet to the same kind of dress, is drawing death
Again in blossoms against the reactionary fire.. pulsing
and knowing nothing to superb violet distances that intercalate
This city. Is the death of the cube repeated. Or in the musical album.

It is time now for a general understanding of
The meaning of all this. The meaning of Helga, importance of the setting, etc.
A description of passionate blues, etc. Labels on bottles
And all kinds of discarded objects that ought to be described.
But can one ever be sure of which ones?
Isn't this a death-trap, wanting to put too much in
So the floor sags, as under the weight of a piano, or piano-legged girl
And the whole house of cards comes dinning down around one's ears!

But this is an important aspect of the question
Which I am not ready to discuss, am not at all ready too
This leaving-out business. On it hinges the very importance of what's novel
Or autocratic, or dense or silly. It is as well to call attention
To it by exaggeration, perhaps. But calling attention
Isn't the same thing as explaining, and as I said I am not reday
To line phrases with the costly stuff of explanation, and shall not
Will not do so just at the moment. Except to say that the carnivorous
Way of these lines is to devour their own nature, leaving
Nothing but a bitter impression of absence, which as we know involves presence, but still.
Nevertheless these are fundamental absences, struggling to get up and be off themselves.

And this, thus, is a portion of the subject of this poems
Which takes the form of a snow storm XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX is in the form of falling snowdele
That is, that the individual flakes are not essential to the importance of the whole's becoming so much of a truism
That their importance is again put i XXXXXX called in question, to be denied further out, and again and again like this.dele
Hence, neither the importance of the individual flake,
Or the importance of the whole impression of the storm, if it has any, is what it is
But the rhythm of the series of the repeated jumps, from abstract into positive and back into a slightly less diluted abstract.

Mild effects are the result.

I cannot think any more of going out into all that, will stay here
With my mild schmerzen. Besides the storm is almost over.
Having frozen the face of the bust into a strange style with the lips
An the teeth the most distinct part of the whole mess.

It is this madness to explain...