100th Volume Retrospective: Happy Autumn Fields by John Ashbery

John Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and many other prizes. This poem was published by the Review over twenty years after he had earned his M.A. from Columbia.

Happy Autumn Fields

by John Ashbery

I call it (though I’m no authority)
The big syndrome, of when everything
Lies down together. The pointed roofs
That called to you through the trees
Are still there, though for some reason
You never see them from the road.
All the grass is invitation
To the sanctity of outdoor living, and the houses
Add the right note of internal tact.

It’s insane how the seasons continue:
Autumn, September and soon
The business of winter with a suggestion
Lifting into February and the dim light of spring.
How many years? How many days does a man have?
How many can we use? Lots more, certainly,
But not too many, surely. There are limits.
Yet this time sun on frizzled goldenrod —
Perhaps there simply isn’t enough of that.

from Vol. 54 (1975)