Introduction and Theme of the poem
Ashbery’s poems are abstract paintings in words.
He enjoyed painting the seas portrait.
But just as children imagine a prayer
Is merely silence, he expected his subject
Plaster its own portrait on the canvas.
As a means to an end. Select, for a portrait,
Something less angry and large, and more subject
To a painter’s moods, or, perhaps, to a prayer
That nature, not art, might usurp the canvas?
Let it be you who wrecks the canvas.
He had gone back to the sea for his subject
Imagine a painter crucified by his subject.