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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

PICTURE OF LITTLE J.A. IN A PROSPECT OF FLOWERS, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

The poem "PIcture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers" was written by the American poet John Ashbery, who is known for his unique style that blends elements of surrealism, modernism, and postmodernism. Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York in 1927 and went on to become one of the most influential poets of his generation. He published over 20 books of poetry and won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. "LCA / PICTURE OF LITTLE J.A. IN A PROSPECT OF FLOWERS" was published in Ashbery's 1975 collection "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror."

Context:

The poem "PIcture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers" is a meditation on the nature of identity and the difficulty of establishing meaningful connections with others. The title of the poem is an acronym for "Little Children's Album," which refers to a collection of photographs of Ashbery and his siblings taken when they were young. The poem explores the idea that our identities are shaped by the memories and experiences of our childhood, and that these memories can be fragmented and disconnected from our current selves.

Content:

The poem is written in free verse and does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or meter. However, it does contain a number of poetic devices and structures that enhance its meaning and impact. The poem is divided into five stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the theme of identity and connection. The first stanza introduces the idea of the family name as a "stock phrase" that can limit our ability to connect with others. The second stanza explores the fear of being unnoticed and the desire to slip away into obscurity. The third stanza considers the idea of fragmented identity and the difficulty of being seen as a complete person. The fourth stanza reflects on the futility of it all, but also acknowledges the necessity of continuing to work at the business of love. The final stanza brings the poem full circle by returning to the image of the Little Children's Album and the idea that our identities are shaped by the memories and experiences of our childhood.

Poetic Elements:

The poem "PIcture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers" contains a number of poetic elements that enhance its meaning and impact. One of the most notable elements is the use of enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence from one line to the next without punctuation. This creates a sense of flow and continuity that reflects the theme of fragmented identity and the difficulty of establishing meaningful connections with others. The poem also contains a number of metaphorical images, such as the fog and obscurity that represent the fragmentation of identity, and the package of unconnected traits that represents the way in which we are seen by others.

Summary:

Overall, "PIcture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers" is a complex and thought-provoking poem that explores the nature of identity and the difficulty of establishing meaningful connections with others. The poem's use of metaphorical imagery and enjambment creates a sense of fragmentation and disconnection that reflects its themes. While the poem may be challenging for some readers, it rewards careful reading and analysis by offering insights into the nature of identity and the human condition.

Poem Snippet:

The difficulty of getting people to connect

The family name too obviously bespeaks

A certain admission of stock phrases

Into the usual pattern of things

So that, when the time comes

To slip away unnoticed, no one will notice.

But what if somebody does?

I would prefer not to be the center

Of such small, odd rumors.

What if they think

I'm no good? When we see a man,

We see him all at once, but if he moves

Away from us into the night, and slips

Into the fog and obscurity, we see him

As a collection of fragments,

A school project, a package of unconnected traits.

Oh, what is the use of it all? I'd like to quit

But I must keep working, working

At this business of love.


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