29 June 2008

A. R. Ammons

[from A. R. Ammons's Collected Poems: 1951-1971, 1972]

excerpt from "Essay on Poetics"

. . . I like the order that allows, say, when
a thousand cows are on a thousand acres,
clusters to flow out in single file down a gully,

encirclings of drink holes, concentrations in a green
bottom, spread-outs, but identifiable, across
a broad rise or scape: I like that just as I

like tracings converging into major paths,
untracings of widening out beyond a clump of
trees or small pass:

those configurations, rendered by aerial photography,
would interest me endlessly
in the precision of their topographical relations:

the interests of cows and the possibilities of
the landscape could be read (not a single actual cow)
there well: and nothing be as a consequence known and

yet everything in a sense known, the widest paths
the controlling symbols, with lesser resemblances of
motion: after a while I could account for the motions of

the whole herd and make interesting statements:
for example, with experience, I bet I could tell
from the wear under a copse

whether a lot of hot sunny days in a year
or windy days come: I could tell something obvious already
from the copse whether it constitutes a meaningful

windbreak in a cold wind, sand or snow storm, and then
that, though obvious, would tell about cows:
I'll bet in warm climates with heavy, maybe daily, rains

there'd be little wear under trees, for the cows
would enjoy being out in the showers:
anyway, there's a time when loose speech has to give in,

come up to the corral, run through the planked alleys,
accept the brand, the medication, surrender to the
identity of age, sex, weight, and bear its relationship

to the market: there's no market for most speech, specially
good, and none for loose: that's why I don't care
how far I wander off;

I wouldn't care if I found a whole year gone by and myself
not called for: the way I think is
I think what I see: the designs are there: I use

words to draw them out -- also because I can't
draw at all: I don't think: I see: and I see
the motions of cowpaths . . .

Collected Poems 1951-1971

No comments:

Post a Comment