by A. R. Ammons

Original Language English

It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don't worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it's not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

-- from Collected Poems: 1951 - 1971, by A. R. Ammons

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This poem is a delightful meditation on how form emerges "spiraling from a center" of essential nature.

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will

Form is the expression of a more subtle foundation. Ammons is using the world of color and shape as an exercise for the awareness, a way of looking at the outer to discover the inner.

Looking at the world this way, a stillness settles on us, and we begin to see the stillness of things, even in their movement. And we start to recognize how shape and color both hide and reveal the true nature of things.

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
totally its apparent self:

Looking at the world this way, the perceptual wall between ourselves and what we witness fades away, and we become something new, bigger, open, a collective unity, "the self not mine but ours"...

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.


Recommended Books: A. R. Ammons

Collected Poems: 1951 - 1971 Brink Road: Poems Selected Poems A Coast of Trees: Poems by A R Ammons Uplands: New Poems by A R Ammons
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