Ans. John Ashbery's poetry is mainly about the play and process of the mind interacting with the world. He is also concerned with the process of artistic creation and appreciation. His themes are numerous since the mind perceiving subjects is numerous. Other themes include, love, loss, alienation, the everyday, painting, art, emotions, home eroticism, and emotions etc.
(ii) What are the major elements of modernity in John Ashbery's Poetry?
Ans. John Ashbery is chiefly known for the artistic perfection of his poetry. Stream of consciousness, impressionism, expressionism, subjectivity, symbolism, simple language and philosophical touch are the major elements of modernity in Jonh Ashbery's poetry.
(iii) What is the symbolic significance of the title 'Melodic Trains'?
Ans. The title "Melodic Trains" suggests that it is about a train journey. It 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. There is also the rhythm of the thought process.
(iv) What is the main theme of 'Melodic Trains'?
Ans. The main theme of "Melodic Trains" by John Ashbery is that life is a perpetual journey into the unconscious regions of human mind, which brings up a new perspective each time an activity is stirred.
(v) What are the symbolic elements in 'Melodic Trains'?
Ans. Train, enameled fingernails of the little girl, toy wristwatch of the little girl, stations, passengers at stations, taxi, and tower of Pisa are the major symbolic elements in "Melodic Trains".
(vi) How is journey of train similar to journey of mind? (Melodic Trains)
Ans. The journey in real train is paralleled by a symbolic train of thoughts and melodies, poetic ideas running through the mind. Life is a perpetual journey into the unconscious regions of human mind, which brings up a new station each time an activity is stirred.
(vii) What do the stations of train symbolize in 'Melodic Trains'?
Ans. Stations symbolize a temporary stopover. They are a midpoint between past and future of our lives. They give us a sense of transition, of being between worlds, between experiences. The human gathering at stations is like chorus singing about various stages of the journey of life.
(viii) What is the main theme of the poem 'The Painter'?
Ans. The main theme of the poem "The Painter" by John Ashbery is that innovator, modern and creative artists are crucified by the traditional and conventional people.
(ix) How does Ashbery define art in 'The Painter'?
Ans. Ashbery's conception of art in "The Painter" is like that of a child's prayer which is a direct relationship between the artist and the art like that of a prayee to God. He says that objective representation of reality must be the basis of art. Soul, spirit, vitality of life, and the essence of reality should be the features of art.
(x) What is Ashbery's wish in 'The Painter'?
Ans. Ashbery was himself a painter. In this poem, he wishes to paint an abstract idea. He wants artistic perfection of his painting. Canvas is a symbol of life, he wants to paint colours of truth on it, which is beyond his reach.
(xi) What are the major symbols in 'The Painter'?
Ans. "The Painter" is a highly symbolic poem. It is packed with symbols that it seems like an allegory. The major symbols are; the sea, the buildings, the painter and canvas.
(xii) What does the sea symbolize in 'The Painter'?
Ans. The sea in "The Painter" is a symbol of creativity and the unexplored depths of human consciousness. It also resents the vitality and essence or life, with has long been ignored.
(xiii) Why does the poet use the image of Tower of Pisa in 'Melodic Trains'?
Ans. The poet uses the image of Tower of Pisa to reflect the modern man's psychological complexities.
(xiv) Trace political and religious allegory in 'The Painter'?
Ans. The pathetic state of the painter lends political and religious interpretations of the poem. The line "Try using the brush for a means to an end" shows the selfishness of the political gains. The word 'crucify' has religious connotation so the poem becomes a religious allegory too.
(xv) Why does the painter not paint anything on the canvas?
Ans. The poem presents the situation of an artist who wants to paint the sea. He wants that "nature, not art, might usurp the canvas". The artist is unable to present reality and so "there was never any paint on the canvas".