Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nothing useful is of lasting value

I've just discovered a new poet (new to me, of course): A. R. Ammons (1926-2001). The title of this post is a line from his poem "Conserving the Magnitude of Uselessness." Here are two more that I like:

Cut the Grass
The wonderful workings of the world: wonderful,
wonderful: I'm surprised half the time:
ground up fine, I puff if a pebble stirs:

I'm nervous: my morality's intricate: if
a squash blossom dies, I feel withered as a stained
zucchini and blame my nature: and
when grassblades flop to the little red-ant
queens burring around trying to get aloft, I blame
my not keeping the grass short, stubble

firm: well, I learn a lot of useless stuff, meant
to be ignored: like when the sun sinking in the
west glares a plane invisible, I think how much

revelation concealment necessitates: and then I
think of the ocean, multiple to a blinding
oneness and realize that only total expression
expressed hiding: I'll have to say everything
to take on the roundness and withdrawal of the deep dark:
less than total is a bucketful of radiant toys. 

This Bright Day

Earth, earth!
day this bright day
again--once more
showers of dry spruce gold,
the poppy flopped broad open and delicate
from its pod--once more,
all this again: I've had many
days here with these stones and leaves:
like the sky, I've taken on a color
and am still:
the grief of leaves,
summer worms, huge blackant
queens bulging
from weatherboarding, all that
will pass
away from me that I will pass into,
none of the grief
cuts less now than ever--only I
have learned the
sky, the day sky, the blue
obliteration of radiance:
the night sky,
pregnant, lively,
tumultuous, vast--the grief
again in a higher scale
of leaves and poppies:
space, space--
and a grief of things:
motion: standing still.

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