Whispers of the Heart

Listen carefully and the words will speak to you

John Ashberry Essay

   (this is an essay written for Eng 301 at USM)
                                                              Your Name Here
                    
     'Life.' This one word describes the subject matter of his poetry.  Words and thoughts imprison you as the reader.  He reflects back on his childhood memories and the tasks of daily life through this book.
     As far as his style and structure of sentences.  I do not see him to have one particular style.  He uses short and long sentence structures to create breaks in his poems and cause the reader to pause at just the right moment of reflection.  His style is one of honesty and you feel as if he is telling you the story of his life and somehow you are able to relate it to that of your own.
     His opening poem, 'This Room', speaks directly to the reader as he asks the question, "Why do I tell you these things? You are not even here."
     That is what attracted me to this poet though.  You are there.  You are with him in childhood, in his memories and with him in the place of imprisonment from which he writes.
     One of the poems I particularly liked ws 'Here we go Looby'. In this poem I feel sympathy for a child who was lost and continued to try and find himself into his adult years.  You can feel the hurt in the voice of the poet and at the end of the poem with the line 'It was all a drawing on canvas, you see. This way no one gets hurt, ...'.
     He speaks of life throughtout the book as that of one being like an actor on a stage.  There are many theatre references in his poems.  There is talk of rejoice and regret, happiness and sorrow.  He transfers back and forth from reality to imagination, from present to the past - never once leaving you to feel like he has forgotten you, the reader.  He makes many references through his poems of himself being lost.  I do not think that this lost feeling was one of physeical being, but one of emotional ties to those that he has loved and have either passed on before him or who he is unable to see as he would like.
     There is a deep undertone throughout this book for the woman he loves and will love until the day he departs from this earth.  In numberous poems he speaks of kissing her while she sleeps and you are left to believe that these are on ly his thought so a kiss, that it has not become real.. In his final poem 'Your name Here', he ends it with ' But I was totally taken with you, always have been.  Light a candle in my wreath.   I'll be yours forever and will kiss you.'
     This last poem to me signified his life coming to an end.  It was as if he was writing a good-bye letter to those who were improtant to him and at the same time allowing you the reader to put yourself into the poem and realize that it could have been written for you, that you could put your own name into this poem and it would work for you.
     In this collectino of poetry I read many stories, stories of youth, loss, aging, dreams and the trauma of daily living.  He tells us lots of tales without a lot of clutter.  He has a knack of being able to get to the point without using flowery language or words that aree foreign to the reader; he is concrete in an abstract sort of way.  Some of his poems ar like a jigsaw puzzle dumped out of the box until you get to the last couple of lines, at which pont the entire poem brings meaning to the set of objectives he has for the reader and for himself.
     I flet like his friend as I read his book.  It was as if he was pouring out the strings of his heart, on chord at a time for us to put a melody to.  That harmonious tone may be one that is sluggish and sinister liek 'Dance Macabre' or it may bring on the jauntiness of enchantment as if in the 'Sound of Music'.
     'Your Name Here' will remain in my library of books as one that I will reread again and again.