To meet as far this morning From the world as agreeing With it, […]
The final thought in the first stanza is "arranging by chance," which seems to detract a little from all the unnatural stuff we saw earlier. Spontaneity is a whole lot more natural than something that's planned.
Notice too that lines 3-4 rhyme "performance" with "chance." It looks like Ashbery is making a stylistic connection between two opposing ideas: one as a "performance" that's unnatural, and the other a "chance" that is somewhat more natural.
Between lines 4 and 5 we have more enjambment that takes us not only from one line to the next, but also one stanza to the next.
From the first stanza we had the idea of "arranging by chance," but in this new stanza it's related here to a meeting of some sort. The last time we checked, trees don't have meetings, so it looks like we're dealing with people.
The meeting is happening at morning, an important time of day. We can think of it as a symbol for a fresh start, new beginnings, new worlds, scrambled eggs, etc.
What can we make of that? Are the people starting something new? That could be, considering the poem opens with a subtle suggestion that the trees are part of an extended metaphor that reflects a relationship of some sort. (Check out "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay" for more on that idea.)
But notice that line 5 reads, "as far this morning," so the speaker seems to be getting at the idea of distance ("as far […] / From the world"), whether it's a distance between people or between people and the world.
And lo and behold, line 6 does a great job of clarifying that for us: "to meet as far this morning from the world as agreeing with it." So maybe the people arranged by chance to meet far from the rest of the world and yet are also somehow close to it ("agreeing with it"). We know this seems a bit tricky. Put another way, it kind of sounds like the speaker is keeping with the idea of individuals being separate from the rest of the world but also always still a part of it. Got it?
But again, since this is Ashbery, we need to weigh lots of different options as we read. How else can we read lines 5-7? How does this meeting relate to line 4's idea of "arranging by chance"?
The speaker may be hinting at the simple essence of how the world works and more importantly how relationships work. We can't really explain it with any certainty, but we know the world works somehow and it works pretty well, considering we're not in an utter state of chaos day in and day out. In other words, there's some sort of order to the universe, even if its meaning isn't jumping out at us.
It's kind of like this poem, right? As tricky as the lines may seem, there's some order to Ashbery's style. Notice the structure of the poem that is equally divided into five stanzas, each with four lines. We're noticing all those different rhymingcouplets in each stanza too, so there's quite a bit of order here. For example, these couplet rhymes continue here too ("morning" and "agreeing"). (Check out "Form and Meter" for more ideas.)