Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

James Williams and Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198708568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198708568.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 May 2020

Edward Lear, John Ashbery, and the Pleasant Surprise

Edward Lear, John Ashbery, and the Pleasant Surprise

(p.347) 17 Edward Lear, John Ashbery, and the Pleasant Surprise
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry

Stephen Ross

Oxford University Press

Throughout his career, and increasingly in the later work, John Ashbery has maintained a vibrant dialogue with the English nonsense tradition. Edward Lear in particular has accompanied Ashbery from the start as a crucial interlocutor. This essay surveys some of the highlights of that conversation, focusing on Ashbery’s early, macabre rewriting of ‘How Pleasant To Know Mr. Lear!’ and later, lighter engagement with poems such as ‘The Four Little Children Who Went Around the World’ and ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’. What continuously draws Ashbery to Lear is his genius for the ‘pleasant surprise’, which Ashbery has called ‘the one essential ingredient for great art’. Long read after the modernist lights of figures such as Wallace Stevens and W. H. Auden, Ashbery enjoys an equally strong affinity to Lear and his ‘ludicrously whirligig’ art of sudden shifts.

Keywords:   Edward Lear, John Ashbery, surprise, nonsense, New York School, twentieth-century American poetry

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .