The first typescript

[Page 38]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 38

From Pagoda Land dele


A Funny Grace. The "Second Position." Man's Indifference Explained. Apology for Human Life. Drunkenness and Its After-Effects. No matter how kind you are to other people, they will hate you for being yourself. A wish formulated for future periods of temperance and relaxation. The British Tea Industry and Its Development. A History of Tea. From Pagoda Land. Gipsy Tea-Leaves. Past Masters of Eloquence. Rapid View of the Houses of Parliament. Brief discussion of the parliamentary System. A "Bird Brain." Pencils and Pens. The Colors of the Spectrum. A Dusty Road. All'Osteria Venti. A Sound of Peeing. The Avalanche. Wednesday Morning. Appendix. The Constellations.

The wind thrashes the maple seed-pods,
The whole brilliant mass comes spattering down.

This is my fourteenth year as governor of C___ province.
I was little more than a lad when I first came here.
Now I am older, but scarcely any wiser.
So little are white hairs and a wrinkled forehead a sign of wisdom!dele

We were waiting for you under the broom-tree.
We called but you did not come.

I keep a pocket diary
In which I note down random jottings and impressions.
Today I wrote, "The spring is late this year.
In the early mornings there is hoar-frost on the water-meadows
And delicate papery ice shields the frozen mud on the highway."dele
If you go out to the western gate, will anybody be likely to meet you?

The wind continues its tiresome threnody
In the {baggy branches of the} eucalyptus.{' baggy branches}dele

There are only a few travelers on the Z high road.dele
Eyes XXXXX From behind slatted shutters a pair of black eyes are watching them.dele
They areXXX belong to the wife of P, the high-school principal.dele

It was forty-odd years ago I first saw you
Coming over the self-same track.

And I still go out to meet you.
The screen door bangs in the rising wind, one of the hinges is loose.
And together we look back at the house.
It could use a coat aX of paintdele
Except that I am too poor to hire a workman.dele
I have all I can do to keep body and soul together
And soon, even that relatively simple task may prove to be beyond my powers.