John Ashbery
Well-Lit Places

The horse-chestnut tree shelters the house of princes.

The laurel nudges the catalpa.

Mussolini offers a diamond to Corot.

The proud, the famous, the magnificent

exude gentleness and megalomania.

Embassies are loud with the sound of cymbals and organ.

The taste of insolence is sharp, with an agreeable mingled sweetness.


A man declaiming in front of a coat of arms

is possessed of great pride and believes no man equal to himself in valor, dignity or competence.

He will have two wives who will love him dearly and whom he won’t love at all.

He will be irascible and lustful.

He will endure many reverses because of his sudden wrath and his great courage.


The girl will have a large and wide bosom.

She will experience disappointment at the age of twelve through an act of oppression or virginal corruption.

She will conquer in all things, with God’s help and that of the fuchsia , the orange, and the dahlia.

Found In Volume 33, No. 06
Read Issue
  • john ashbery
John Ashbery
About the Author

John Ashbery’s books include Selected Prose and Where Shall I Wander. He is Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.