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This article is taken from PN Review 99, Volume 21 Number 1, September - October 1994.

John Ashbery, Nature Poet Justin Quinn

And our landscape came to be as it is today:
Partially out of focus, some of it too near, the middle
  distance
A haven of serenity and unreachable, with all kinds of nice
People and plants waking and stretching, calling
Attention to themselves with every artifice of which the
  human
Genre is capable. And they called it our home.
                                             from'A Wave'


[N]atural space will soon be lost to view. Anyone so inclined may look over their shoulder and see it sinking below the horizon behind us. Nature is also becoming lost to thought. For what is nature? How can we form a picture of it as it was before the intervention of humans with their ravaging tools? Even the powerful myth of nature is being transformed into a mere fiction, a negative utopia: nature is now seen as merely the raw material out of which the productive forces of a variety of social systems have forged their particular spaces. True, nature is resistant, and infinite in its depth, but it has been defeated, and now waits only for its ultimate voidance and destruction.
               from The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre


For many, John Ashbery's name would not spring to mind when considering the great nature poets of the twentieth century. Robinson Jeffers, with his embittered valorisation of the forces of nature over those of humanity, Michael Longley, as he records the way the seabirds lift over ...


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