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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The 'music' of words


“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.” – A. R. Ammons

Born on this date in 1926, Ammons was a North Carolinian who worked as an elementary school principal and as a glass company executive before turning his full attention to literature – both teaching and writing.   From 1964 to 1998 he taught creative writing at Cornell University while authoring hundreds, if not thousands, of poems.

Ammons wrote about nature and the self, themes that had preoccupied Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and that remained the central focus of his work.  His Collected Poems, 1951–1971 (a terrific read) won a National Book Award.   And his Selected Poems is an excellent introduction to his works  Ammons died in 2001.          
                                                                “What is poetry?” he was asked.   
                                                                “Poetry," he replied, "is the music of words ...  
                                                                the linguistic correction of disorder.”   
For Saturday’s Poem, 
here is Ammons’


Eyesight

 It was May 
before my attention 
came to spring and  
 
my word I said
to the southern slopes 
I've  
 
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


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