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A. R. Ammons

  • American poet
  • Born February 18, 1926
  • Died February 25, 2001

Archie Randolph Ammons (February 18, 1926 – February 25, 2001) was an American poet who won the annual National Book Award for Poetry in 1973 and 1993.


Once every five hundred years or so, a summary statement about poetry comes along that we can't imagine ourselves living without.




Only silence perfects silence.




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.

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.




I take the walk to be the externalization of an interior seeking so that the analogy is first of all between the external and the internal.




Probably all the attention to poetry results in some value, though the attention is more often directed to lesser than to greater values.




Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings, to the unknown, and returns us to our rational, structured selves refreshed.




There's something to be said in favor of working in isolation in the real world.




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.'




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.

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.




A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste, judgement, deduction.




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.




Questions structure and, so, to some extent predetermine answers.




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.




Definition, rationality, and structure are ways of seeing, but they become prisons when they blank out other ways of seeing.




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.




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 recognised by burning.




If the greatest god is the stillness all the motions add up to, then we must ineluctably be included.




Everything is discursive opinion instead of direct experience.




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.




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 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.




The poet exposes himself to the risk. All that has been said about poetry, all that he has learned about poetry, is only a partial assurance.




Each poem in becoming generates the laws by which it is generated: extensions of the laws to other poems never completely take.




In nature there are few sharp lines.




Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.




Is it not careless to become too local when there are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.




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.



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