“Mysteries Expound Mysteries”: Marianne Moore’s Influence on John Ashbery

  • Karin Roffman
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


Using original archival evidence, Karin Roffman argues that Marianne Moore has had a more profound and lasting impact on the poetry of John Ashbery than Wallace Stevens or W.H. Auden, poets more frequently associated with influencing Ashbery’s work. The essay demonstrates the ways Ashbery’s poem “Some Trees” emerged from his intensive study of Moore’s poetry during college, an engagement with her ideas about poetry that he renewed repeatedly over many years. In his important reviews in the 1960s of Moore’s Tell Me Tell Me and Complete Poems, he reread her entire oeuvre, discovering in it deep wells of feeling and a vocabulary for describing his own developing poetic ideas. In his most recent poems, Ashbery continues to quote Moore, placing her ideas and phrases beside and among his own, a fascinating process of thinking and writing that explains as much about his reading of her work as it does about his own.

Works Cited

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Roffman
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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