The first typescript

[Page 41]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 41


The passions that inhabit a man!
And the belief that, with them, everything will somehow turn out all right!

"R was a formean on the XX P-Q ranchdele
After a brilliant caree XXXXXX beginning as a poetdele
He feel love with a ewe from a neighboring farm. hacienda.dele
His name is unknown in the university
And in the wooden pavillion of the Lotus Court.
He spends all his time reciting poetry to an empty corral."

Tomorrow our way lies beneath strange cliffs,
Across murky currents and impossible champaigns.
I suggest that we both get a little shut-eye.dele
I guess I All night long I shall be muttering apologies.dele
There is nothing worse than being drunk on apricot brandy
Unless it is waking up the next morning, your
Head encircled by midges gnats.dele
A servant girl in a triped dress brings you a pot of cold water to wash in.
But the logey feeling persists until well into the afternoon.
  HowI long for future periods of temperance and relaxation!dele

There is less drunknness in China than elsewhere.
True, they sing the delights of wood-alcohol
With all the passion of which the Yellow Race is capable.
Yet tea, the fermented and dried leaves of the tea-shrub steeped in boiling water, is the national beverage.

The British, though not averse to hard liquor, are a nation of tea drinkersdele
Their liners have a habit of scouting the seven seas in search of the ephemeral brewdele
Alas, the capricious bush is partial only to certain shades and climates.dele
Often the tea-captain must push on to the furthest shores of sullen Cathaydele
To satisfy the whims of his regent. There, a slit-eyed potentatedele
Regales him in the Tea Palace over a steaming pot of an unnamed brew.dele

The British tea industry has had a phenomenal rise in the last hundred years.dele
Britons are the biggest tea-consumers, followed by the United States and Norway.dele
In Bolivia last year some 7 millions ofXX gallons of scalding tea was serveddele
In little bowls, while the Peruvians like to sip it through a porcelain tube.dele

But all this is nothing in comparisondele
To the interest in fortune-telling via tea-leaves.dele
A creful fortune-teller can discerndele
Signs peculiar--wreathed woodsmoke, a mounted cowboydele
With spurs and holster, or a cat arching its back on some roof.dele
Sometimes a necklace of diamonds, or a snake, or a speeding express traindele
Or barred windows, are among the shapes assumed by the capricious herb.dele

We are still sitting in the courtyard of the little inn
Near an open drainage ditch. The wind has dropped again
And the sun, on the backs of our necks, feels quite warm.