Into the Dusk-Charged Air by John Ashbery
Into the Dusk-Charged Air by John Ashbery john ashbery stories

classicpoet Poetry from the Masters
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Far from the Rappahannock, the silent Danube moves along toward the sea.

Into the Dusk-Charged Air by John Ashbery

Far from the Rappahannock, the silent

Danube moves along toward the sea.

The brown and green Nile rolls slowly

Like the Niagara's welling descent.

Tractors stood on the green banks of the Loire

Near where it joined the Cher.

The St. Lawrence prods among black stones

And mud. But the Arno is all stones.

Wind ruffles the Hudson's

Surface. The Irawaddy is overflowing.

But the yellowish, gray Tiber

Is contained within steep banks. The Isar

Flows too fast to swim in, the Jordan's water

Courses over the flat land. The Allegheny and its boats

Were dark blue. The Moskowa is

Gray boats. The Amstel flows slowly.

Leaves fall into the Connecticut as it passes

Underneath. The Liffey is full of sewage,

Like the Seine, but unlike

The brownish-yellow Dordogne.

Mountains hem in the Colorado

And the Oder is very deep, almost

As deep as the Congo is wide.

The plain banks of the Neva are

Gray. The dark Saone flows silently.

And the Volga is long and wide

As it flows across the brownish land. The Ebro

Is blue, and slow. The Shannon flows

Swiftly between its banks. The Mississippi

Is one of the world's longest rivers, like the Amazon.

It has the Missouri for a tributary.

The Harlem flows amid factories

And buildings. The Nelson is in Canada,

Flowing. Through hard banks the Dubawnt

Forces its way. People walk near the Trent.

The landscape around the Mohawk stretches away;

The Rubicon is merely a brook.

In winter the Main

Surges; the Rhine sings its eternal song.

The Rhone slogs along through whitish banks

And the Rio Grande spins tales of the past.

The Loir bursts its frozen shackles

But the Moldau's wet mud ensnares it.

The East catches the light.

Near the Escaut the noise of factories echoes

And the sinuous Humboldt gurgles wildly.

The Po too flows, and the many-colored

Thames. Into the Atlantic Ocean

Pours the Garonne. Few ships navigate

On the Housatonic, but quite a few can be seen

On the Elbe. For centuries

The Afton has flowed.

If the Rio Negro

Could abandon its song, and the Magdalena

The jungle flowers, the Tagus

Would still flow serenely, and the Ohio

Abrade its slate banks. The tan Euphrates would

Sidle silently across the world. The Yukon

Was choked with ice, but the Susquehanna still pushed

Bravely along. The Dee caught the day's last flares

Like the Pilcomayo's carrion rose.

The Peace offered eternal fragrance

Perhaps, but the Mackenzie churned livid mud

Like tan chalk-marks. Near where

The Brahmaputra slapped swollen dikes

And the Pechora? The Sao Francisco

Skulks amid gray, rubbery nettles. The Liard's

Reflexes are slow, and the Arkansas erodes

Anthracite hummocks. The Parana stinks.

The Ottawa is light emerald green

Among grays. Better that the Indus fade

In steaming sands! Let the Brazos

Freeze solid! And the Wabash turn to a leaden

Cinder of ice! The Maranon is too tepid, we must

Find a way to freeze it hard. The Ural

Is freezing slowly in the blasts. The black Yonne

Congeals nicely. And the Petit-Morin

Curls up on the solid earth. The Inn

Does not remember better times, and the Merrimack's

Galvanized. The Ganges is liquid snow by now;

The Vyatka's ice-gray. The once-molten Tennessee s

Curdled. The Japura is a pack of ice. Gelid

The Columbia's gray loam banks. The Don's merely

A giant icicle. The Niger freezes, slowly.

The interminable Lena plods on

But the Purus' mercurial waters are icy, grim

With cold. The Loing is choked with fragments of ice.

The Weser is frozen, like liquid air.

And so is the Kama. And the beige, thickly flowing

Tocantins. The rivers bask in the cold.

The stern Uruguay chafes its banks,

A mass of ice. The Hooghly is solid

Ice. The Adour is silent, motionless.

The lovely Tigris is nothing but scratchy ice

Like the Yellowstone, with its osier-clustered banks.

The Mekong is beginning to thaw out a little

And the Donets gurgles beneath the

Huge blocks of ice. The Manzanares gushes free.

The Illinois darts through the sunny air again.

But the Dnieper is still ice-bound. Somewhere

The Salado propels irs floes, but the Roosevelt's

Frozen. The Oka is frozen solider

Than the Somme. The Minho slumbers

In winter, nor does the Snake

Remember August. Hilarious, the Canadian

Is solid ice. The Madeira slavers

Across the thawing fields, and the Plata laughs.

The Dvina soaks up the snow. The Sava's

Temperature is above freezing. The Avon

Carols noiselessly. The Drome presses

Grass banks; the Adige's frozen

Surface is like gray pebbles.

Birds circle the Ticino. In winter

The Var was dark blue, unfrozen. The

Thwaite, cold, is choked with sandy ice;

The Ardeche glistens feebly through the freezing rain.

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