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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

WORSENING SITUATION, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Worsening Situation" is a poem by John Ashbery, an American poet associated with the New York School of poetry. The poem was first published in 1979 as part of his collection "As We Know."

Context: 

The poem was written during a time of political and social upheaval in the United States. The late 1970s were marked by rising inflation, political scandals, and a general sense of disillusionment with the government and the country as a whole. The poem reflects these concerns and Ashbery's interest in exploring the relationship between language and reality.

Content: 

"Worsening Situation" is a meditation on the nature of language and its relationship to the world. The poem is divided into sections, each of which explores a different aspect of this theme. The poem also makes use of a variety of images and metaphors, including those drawn from the natural world and from popular culture.

Structure: 

"Worsening Situation" is written in free verse and has no consistent meter or rhyme scheme. The poem is divided into sections, each of which explores a different aspect of the poem's central theme. The structure of the poem is designed to reflect the sense of fragmentation and uncertainty that characterized the late 1970s.

Poetic Elements: 

The poem makes use of a variety of poetic techniques and devices, including metaphor, imagery, and repetition. The use of a range of images and metaphors helps to create a sense of the complexity and ambiguity of language and its relationship to the world.

Summary: 

"Worsening Situation" is a challenging and thought-provoking poem that reflects the concerns of its time. The poem's exploration of the relationship between language and reality reflects the broader cultural and intellectual context of the late 1970s. The poem's use of a range of poetic techniques and devices helps to create a sense of the complexity and ambiguity of language and its relationship to the world.

Poem Snippet:

 "The present tense is an anxious island we visit

In a worsening situation. A dead wind is rising

And its smell, though faint, is not of roses.

The future cannot be projected backward,

Only guessed at from what has already happened."


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