A. R. Ammons Quotes

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

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

  • 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.

  • Only silence perfects silence.

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Everything is discursive opinion instead of direct experience.

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

  • 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 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.

  • In nature there are few sharp lines.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.'

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

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