Themes In “Melodic Trains” By John Ashbery. He is one of the most readable poets among the readers for his use of simple diction in his poetic style. He always tries to present very simple and understandable ideas to his reader so that they may be able to get or grasp the true message of his poetic genius. This poem is one of the well-known and well-appreciated poems of Ashbery which is distinguished for its irregular rhyme scheme.
Here, Ashbery gives full flight to his imagination and makes it a beautiful piece of prose for its superb use of diction. A typical fluency and effortlessness are very vivid because of the fertility of ideas in his poems. In this poem which is written in a dialogue, the poet is asked about time by a little girl. She is wearing a toy watch which cannot tell her exact time. She is wearing it just for fun. As the adults wear pipe tweed coats for making fun. A personality is too vague and complicated to be understood from appearance and it is like the scenario of a maintenance chain from the window of a train.
A passenger sitting inside the train cannot see visibly the zigzagging valleys plunging into the sea of deep mountains. The railroad runs across the mountain with valleys and the moving Train may be imagined as a pencil guided by a ruler tracing lines across the photo maps of the Alps (mountain).
The poet further imagines that the waiting on the stations seems to be dull and purposeless like one’s own life, because people cannot decide how long the train should stop at a certain station. One starts thinking that there are no railway rules controlling the trains.
By the use of this image, Ashbery wants to make it clear that most of the people are leading an aimless life and such life is leading them to a dull routine.
The standing children on the platform appear sad and worried. The adults are looking worried about reception or taxies because taxies follow no timetable and these are available only by chance. In these very lines, the poet wants to prove the fact that chance and its availability are very essential in life. It is a fact of life that those who do not utilize the availability of chance, repent in their whole life and those who avail it wholeheartedly, get or attain a lot of success in their life.
The people who are waiting there, get gradually impatient and disappointed by every moment of delay. There is no doubt in saying the fact that waiting is one of the most boring jobs of life. People get worried and perplexed at every midway stop. They also get fed up with everything. The poet starts concerning and regarding all the leaving and waiting passengers as his brothers. Sense of unity is there when the problem is the same, faced by all. The poet comes to know the fact that in spite of all its unhappiness, the world goes on its way.
We, all are merely players or actors and actresses continue to enter and depart from this stage of the world while the drama of life goes on like a train. The poet regards any midway stop as a hurdle in the way which creates anxiety for him. He wants to get off on a platform to stretch his limbs and to tell the people that he shared their anxiety.
The people or passengers inside the train are also sad like those who are out on the platform. The poet means to say here that every breathing creatures in this world look sad and life is the other name of melancholy and we are the parts of this sadness.
The arrival of the last stop which also means an ending of the journey and the arrival at the home causes the greatest anxiety in the poet. It seems that the journey was a play and each scene was brought on the stage by the announcement of the chorus. Here chorus too is one of the characters.
This is a great message giving poem which provokes new idealization about the realities of the world. The last lines of the poem remind the message of Shakespeare’s great poem “All the world a great stage”. Though Shakespeare has very beautifully said about the role of whole mankind in the world yet Ashbery clarifies the same idea in a very detailed manner here. He has also used it. very easy words to convey his viewpoint to the readers. He Writes his poem The Painter in which he also very finely elaborates his writing skills. Though ideas often become pessimistic yet Ashbery does not keep an overall tone so well.