Critically evaluate Melodic Trains by John Ashbery. (P.U. 2003, 2005)
Melodic Trains poem of music and musings. It captures its metaphors and symbols from the experience of travelling by train. Ashbery compares this to the journey of life and tries that common worries consume of our energies and leave us little time that others have similar problems which share and lessen. The cornerstone of his poem question middle of the poem: “Why couldn’t/We more considerate?”
The title of the poem sets a tone of harmony and concord. The trains are melodic not because the round of the wheels is so rhythmic, but because Ashbery sees all passengers as his brothers. He empathises with them and feels that on our individual journey of life we must share each others’ experiences and together establish a world more , happiness, and brotherhood. possible everyone hears and shares the music of life. Thus all the complaints of his fellow passengers “strikes silver bells” in his heart.
The poem has of a riverine started by girl’s asking the poet what time the poet muses that the watch she is wearing toy, which she is wearing that she is grown up. This starts of musings the poet thinks that the “tweed” coat and pipe he has establishing him only as an actor playing role. These clothes hardly show what a person is hidden inside. This helps Ashbery bring the comparison as “unfathomable valleys” be explored. They live before the background mountains.
Ashbery equates the train to a “pencil guided by a ruler” that life seems certain and planned way seems “flat” and smooth against the “photomural of the Alps”. On this journey, the distances between stations between passengers intrigue the poet. In his typical way of paradoxical statements, Ashbery thinks distances something “unofficial and impersonal” though sometimes be correct stopped watch “right twice a day”.
Against this background of a train journey as life, Ashbery paints of wait and worry at the stations. This brings theme of the poem into a clearer perspective. The “clouds , of sad regretful impatience” picture of life poet feels that the panic and disorder of the work is so little at of unhappiness. This journey allow us the people with us only memory of the journey is of what we saw outside the train. The journey will end happily but people know that and keep pushing with dogged impatience.
This poem of music and musings is typical of Ashbery’s method of paradoxes and metaphors. His comparisons and metaphors are always his maxim that “Artists fun once been discovered”. The poem, therefore, presents several surprising metaphors. The train journey against the photomural of train pencil guided by a ruler. The thick white clouds of steam “great white apples” to be wearying and world-weary. Such figures be easy and appreciation of the poem but description of the citizen’s committee headed by the mayor hardly brings home to us if Ashbery is end of life or of journey. We are led to David Lehman writing in Beyond Amazement when he asks: “Does Ashbery’s poetry view meanings, or does it militate against the very possibility of articulating them?”
Ashbery draws his metaphors from many sources. Sometimes from Greek notions of the perfectness of the circles as when he refers to the segment of chance circle of certainty. Similarly, last stop means getting home, Ashbery relates this to life end of life but how getting a the visible chorus evades us completely.
Equally ambiguous figure of the zipper which to the earlier image of dress but how it opens the scenery far fetched. The passengers’ voices have descending scales the town being nothing but a windmill welcome at the last stop with the furniture of the air can hardly be taken as an embellishment of the poem.
The poem music title suggested and Ashbery’s frequent use of sonorous words adds to the music. He creates this effect of melody with assonance and consonance repeated in every line. The verse paragraphs follow one after scenes and acts of a drama reaching its natural finale. The poem of the optimistic and sunny side of 20th-century literature.