A. R. Ammons quotes and sayings
February 18, 1926
February 25, 2001
The walk liberating, I was released from forms, from the perpendiculars, straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds of thought into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends of sight.
Besides the actual reading in class of many poems, I would suggest you do two things: first, while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it, teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition.
Each poem in becoming generates the laws by which it is generated: extensions of the laws to other poems never completely take.
I am grateful for - though I can't keep up with - the flood of articles, theses, and textbooks that mean to share insight concerning the nature of poetry.
I have a life that did not become, that turned aside and stopped, astonished.
One can't have it both ways and both ways is the only way I want it.
A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste, judgment, deduction.
I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries, shutting out and shutting in, separating inside from outside: I have drawn no lines.
What destruction have I been blessed by?
Even if you walk exactly the same route each time - as with a sonnet - the events along the route cannot be imagined to be the same from day to day, as the poet's health, sight, his anticipations, moods, fears, thoughts cannot be the same.
The wonderful workings of the world: wonderful, wonderful: I'm surprised half the time.
If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery, a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.
You have your identity when you find out, not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can't keep your mind off.
Though I have looked everywhere / I can find nothing lowly / in the universe.
There's something to be said in favor of working in isolation in the real world.
Only silence perfects silence.
I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity, order, meaning, structure, rationality: they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have, and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change.
Is it not careless to become too local when there are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.
The white sun like a moth on a string circles the southpole.
Things go away to return, brightened for the passage.
Definition, rationality, and structure are ways of seeing, but they become prisons when they blank out other ways of seeing.
For though we often need to be restored to the small, concrete, limited, and certain, we as often need to be reminded of the large, vague, unlimited, unknown.
Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings, to the unknown, and returns us to our rational, structured selves refreshed. Having once experienced the mystery, plenitude, contradiction, and composure of a work of art, we afterward have a built-in resistance to the slogans and propaganda of oversimplification that have often contributed to the destruction of human life. Poetry is a verbal means to a nonverbal source. It is a motion to no-motion, to the still point of contemplation and deep realization.
Attend to mushrooms and all other things will answer up.
That's a wonderful change that's taken place, and so most poetry today is published, if not directly by the person, certainly by the enterprise of the poet himself, working with his friends.
Once every five hundred years or so, a summary statement about poetry comes along that we can't imagine ourselves living without.
If we ask a vague question, such as, 'What is poetry?' we expect a vague answer, such as, 'Poetry is the music of words,' or 'Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.'.
If the greatest god is the stillness all the motions add up to, then we must ineluctably be included.
With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored. The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered.
I can't tell you where a poem comes from, what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man. The reason I can't tell you is that the purpose of a poem is to go past telling, to be recognized by burning.
Questions structure and, so, to some extent predetermine answers.
Where but in the very asshole of comedown is redemption: as where but brought low, where but in the grief of failure, loss, error do we discern the savage afflictions that turn us around: where but in the arrangements love crawls us through.
Probably all the attention to poetry results in some value, though the attention is more often directed to lesser than to greater values.
To be saved is here, local and mortal.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
William Butler Yeats
T. S. Eliot
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Rainer Maria Rilke
W. H. Auden
James Russell Lowell
G. Campbell Morgan
Dick Van Patten
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