“Rivers and mountains” : the conceptual wedding of the temporal and spatial in the early volumes of John Ashbery
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This paper attempts to recuperate certain early poems by John Ashbery that have typically been ignored or undervalued by critics. Ashbery’s second and third published volumes of poetry, The Tennis Court Oath and Rivers and Mountains, have been unfairly neglected by critics such as Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler. Although the criticisms leveled against Ashbery’s collage poems are valid, these criticisms have caused other, more successful poems from this period of Ashbery’s career to fade into obscurity. Poems such as “Thoughts of a Young Girl,” “Rain,” “Our Youth,” “These Lacustrine Cities,” “Into the Dusk-Charged Air,” and “Clepsydra” represent spatial and temporal complexities that make them worthy of a higher critical estimation than they have thus far received.