Poetics

I look for the way
things will turn
out spiralling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

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

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will
unfold:

not the shape on paper -- though
that, too -- but the
uninterfering means on paper:

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.

by Archie Randolph Ammons

Other poems of AMMONS (34)

Comments (3)

I am a published author..When I attended Aurora U. in IL, I minored in English and sociology and was introduced to the fantastic A.R. Ammons, I remembered his poetry when I was 58. He made that much of an impression on me
from what black wells of possibility, how a thing will unfold: Yes this poem has unfolded from such a black well of possibility. The poem found Avon and me too as Frank Avon has commented here below. Great! (10)
This, I think, is a clear statement of Ammons' way of writing - indeed, his very purpose for writing. not seeking or discovering the poem, but letting the poem find him, and at the same time, finding his reader. Of the modernist poets, I think Ammons is the one most concerned about this readers - about finding common ground with us. The poem, to him, should be as natural as a birch tree (and as striking) , but it must come naturally. It actually can't be created; it must unfold itself from black wells of possibility. Poets must open themselves (and the readers they bear in themselves) to the simple unfolding of a spiral of meaning from the many, many possibilities, unforeseen. The 'shape' cannot be imposed; it must spiral forth.