Selections from Ashbery’s previously unpublished “Czerny Variations” appears in Issue 228 of the Paris Review, guest edited by poet Monica Youn. Thank you, Monica!
Here’s an excerpt:
16. Alternating Fingers at Speed
When I think about it the total simplicity charms me the way a wreck would, or a wraith. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with standing to one side while the boars brush past, or invoking a ton of nymphs if you want to: that’s show business, and horse trading as well. Nor is it bad form to challenge the deity over pale attributes emitted but never knowingly received. While there’s a dead-letter office one should be gradual in assuming and allocating blame, lest one’s last donation loom smallest in the rear-view mirror’s tailpiece.
That said, I think there’s some point in listening. You may never get over exactly what it was you wanted to experience, yet neither may those who wanted to offend you at all costs when, emerging from the drum in which you had been hiding since World War II, you were struck by the freshness of everything, even the gnats clustered at the hem of a curtain for some reason, not wanting to get out along with everything else: placid, and confirmed, but not going to stick around much longer, either, as long as the climate was divided up by an infinite number of propositions whose sum equalled that of the passengers delayed by the strike and anxious to get home early this night of chiseled dreams taking the helm again, Laodicean, an ass between two bundles of hay.