I have told you briefly, before, about how glad I am to have been at Cornell at the same time as Archie Ammons, even if I didn't know him. The semester after his death, I was assigned to his office with several other graduate instructors who were only teaching during the fall semester. I spent a lot of that semester thinking about Archie's absence.
This morning, I came across his poem "Corsons Inlet" in the Poetry Daily Archive (a great resource, by the way). I know that I have read this poem in the past, but it had a lovely, thrilling effect on me all over again this morning, making me realize that I must never really have known the poem before.
In the poem, the speaker recalls his morning walk. Here are two of my favorite bits, along with a link to the whole poem. (My copy of Ammons's Collected Poems 1951-1971 is stuck full of black and white snapshots I took on my way home from campus one snowy, icy evening while I was writing my dissertation. I know that one reason I love Ammons is that he and his verses so loved a place that I have loved so much too.)
from Corsons Inlet
the walk liberating, I was released from forms,
from the perpendiculars,
straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends
I allow myself eddies of meaning:
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:
you can find
in my sayings
swerves of action
like the inlet's cutting edge:
there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:
(and then, the end of the poem)
I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will
not run to that easy victory:
still around the looser, wider forces work:
I will try
to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.
-- A. R. Ammons
You should go read the rest of the poem. I have given you only the briefest of tastes.
The diagrams of formes and impositions I studied today make my head spin; two nights ago, I dreamed that I was sitting a massive math exam--on beyond calculus, even--because that's what so much of this bibliography material feels like to me. It's not an unwelcome feeling. Sometimes I miss using that part of my brain on a regular basis, I for whom numbers and formulae also used to sing.
As if on cue, the buzzer on my dryer alerts me that I should be folding clothes now.
source for tonight's image: New Jersey's Department of State's Archive.