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Just as Norman Mailer, John Updike and Philip Roth were at various times regarded as the greatest American novelist since the second world war, John Ashbery and Robert Lowell vied for the title of greatest American poet. Yet the two men could not be more different. Lowell was a public figure who engaged with politics-in 1967 he marched shoulder-to-shoulder with Mailer in protest against the Vietnam war, as described in Mailer’s novel "The Armies of the Night". Lowell took on substantial themes and envisioned himself as a tragic, heroic figure, fighting against his own demons. Mr Ashbery’s verse, by contrast, is more beguilingly casual. In his hands, the making of a poem can feel like the tumbling of dice on a table top. Visible on the page is a delicately playful strewing of words, looking to engage with each other in a shyly puzzled fashion. And there is an element of Dada-like play in his unpredictability of address with its perpetual shifting of tones. Lowell, who died in 1977 at the age of 60, addressed the world head on. By contrast, Mr Ashbery, who celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year, glances wryly at the world and its absurdities. In this edition of his later poems, a substantial gathering of verses selected from six volumes published over the past 20 years, his poetry does not so much consist of themes to be explored as comic routines to be improvised. He mocks the very idea of the gravity of poetry itself. His tone can be alarmingly inconsequential, as if the reader is there to be perpetually wrong-footed. He shifts easily from the elevated to the work-a-day. His poems are endlessly digressive and there are often echoes of other poets in his writings, though these always come lightly at the reader, as though they were scents on the breeze. Lowell wrote in strict formal measures; some of his last books consisted of entire sequences of sonnets. Mr Ashbery can also be partial to particular forms of verse, though these tend to be of a fairly eccentric kind-the cento , for example, and the pantoum . Often he writes in a free-flowing, conversational manner that depends for its success upon the fact that the ending of lines is untrammelled by any concern about whether or not they scan. Within many of his poems, there often seems to be a gently humorous antagonism between one stanza and the next. Mr Ashbery likes using similes in his poetry. This is often the poet’s stock-in-trade, but he seems to single them out in order to send up the very idea of the simile in poetry, as in "Violets blossomed loudly/ like a swear word in an empty tank". Life, for Lowell, was a serious matter, just as he was a serious man. Mr Ashbery’s approach, as evinced by his poetry, is more that of a gentle shrug of amused bewilderment. Unlike Lowell’s, his poems are neither autobiographical nor confessional. He doesn’t take himself that seriously. “Is all of life a tepid housewarming?” For a poet this is a tougher question to answer than you might think. 1.The word “substantial” most probably means ____. [A] serious [B] big [C] important [D] real 2.The last words of Lowell mean that ____. [A] the world should go forward without stopping. [B] the world should not mourn for him. [C] the world should forget him totally. [D] the world should go on its path for a bright future. 3.Which one of the following is NOT the characteristics of Ashbery’s poetry? [A] Some lines are borrowed from the other poets’ works. [B] Stanzas are different from each other in one poem. [C] Words are scattered casually in his poetry. [D] Tones are continuously changing from the highbrow to the common. 4.Mr. Ashbery’s similes in poetry are different from that of the other poets in that ____. [A] he likes to single them out. [B] he uses them in an eccentric way. [C] he uses simile for simile. [D] he uses simile to express his complex thought. 5.Why the author think the question Ashbery raised is a tougher one for a poet than we might think? [A] Because a poet looks at things in a very complicated way. [B] Because a poet takes life seriously. [C] Because this question is a difficult one. [D] Because the theme of life is worth thinking for a poet. 【篇章剖析】 这篇文章介绍了美国诗人Ashbery和其诗歌的特点,文章虽然是以两个诗人对比的形式写作的,但是却对Ashbery着墨偏多,另外一个诗人洛厄尔只是一个陪衬而已。第一段讲述了两个诗人竞争美国最伟大诗人的称号;第二段第三段都是对两位诗人作品特点的描述;第四段讲述他们对生活的不同态度。 【难句突破】 In this edition of his later poems, a substantial gathering of verses selected from six volumes published over the past 20 years, his poetry does not so much consist of themes to be explored as comic routines to be improvised. [主体结构] His poetry does not so much consist of … [结构分析] 本句为简单句,作状语的介词短语成分比较复杂,a substantial gathering of verses是edition的同位语,该同位语是带有作定语的分词短语。在主句中,不定式短语to be explored…用来修饰themes, 而不定式短语to be improvised 又用来修饰comic routines. [句子译文] 他这本晚些出版的诗集选编了过去20年间出版的六本诗集中的诗歌,其主题不再是象那种临时准备的老套滑稽节目,他戏谑诗歌本身具有严肃性这个话题 This is often the poet’s stock-in-trade, but he seems to single them out in order to send up the very idea of the simile in poetry, as in "Violets blossomed loudly/ like a swear word in an empty tank". [主体句式] This is … but he … [结构分析] 这是一个并列句,后面分句成份较为复杂,带有一个不定式短语作目的状语,as 引导成分修饰的是整个分句。 [句子译文] 虽然这是诗人的惯用手法,但他却把这些比喻单独挑出来,以突出诗里面明喻这个概念。比如"紫罗兰纵声开放/ 宛如空桶里的一句毒誓"。 【参考译文】 二战后的几个时期里,诺曼·梅勒、约翰·厄普代克、菲利普·罗斯成为美国公认的最伟大的小说家,同样地,约翰·Ashbery和罗伯特·洛厄尔也争取美国最伟大的诗人这个名号。但是,这两个家伙可是截然不同。洛厄尔是个公众人物,参与政治活动。1967年,他和梅勒肩并肩抗议越战,梅勒在其小说《夜行军》曾描述了这些情景。洛厄尔选择的主题宏大,把自己想象成富有悲剧色彩的英雄形象,和自己的恶魔战斗。而Ashbery的诗却颇有闲逸气。于他而言,做诗就好像是在桌上滚动的色子,纸上呈现的词精妙地散落着,彼此都羞涩地挨在一起。其不断的语气变化又使得本来变化莫测的措辞平添了一丝达达派的意味。 洛厄尔1977年去世,终年60岁,他还号召世界继续前进。而今年年初才庆贺了自己80岁生日的Ashbery,却冷眼瞧着这个世界,以及这个世界的荒诞。他这本晚些出版的诗集选编了过去20年间出版的六本诗集中的诗歌,其主题不再是象那种临时准备的老套滑稽节目,他戏谑诗歌本身具有严肃性这个话题。他的语气极其不合逻辑,好像读者永远都站不对阵脚。他的语气一会是严肃的,一会马上就成了work-a-day。他的诗歌是那么的不着边际,中间或夹杂有其他诗人的一词半调,但轻轻地来到读者面前,就好像风中的一丝气息而已。 洛厄尔遵循严格的格式,他最后的一些作品有完整的十四行诗体例。Ashbery先生的诗歌也有一定的格式,只是有点怪异罢了–比如集锦(其他诗人作品的杂合),比如潘顿诗体(一种马来西亚诗体,据说是由维克托·雨果引入19世纪的欧洲的)。他常以一种随意、会话式的方式创作,关键就在于每行结尾不必非得符合格律。在他的许多诗里面,两节之间常是有点滑稽的对立。Ashbery先生喜欢用明喻。虽然这是诗人的惯用手法,但他却把这些比喻单独挑出来,好像要戏谑诗里面明喻这个概念。比如"紫罗兰纵声开放/ 宛如空桶里的一句毒誓"。 对于洛厄尔,生活是件严肃的事情,正如他本人一样。而Ashbery的生活方式却不止是因困惑而轻轻地耸一下肩,从他的诗中就可以看出来。和洛厄尔不同,他的诗既不是自传性质的,也不是忏悔的。他并不那么较真。"生活的全部是不是只是迁入新居?"这个问题让一个诗人来回答,可是比我们想象的难得多。 【答案】BDACD


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