SPHERE: The Form of a Motion by A.R. Ammons

SPHERE: The Form of a Motion

Age Range: 1951 - 1971
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Take a deep breath before starting this long poem of 155 sections of four tercets punctuated only by colons that thrust the eye forward, deeper into its abstraction, almost faster than the mind can travel: it's cosmology in its own box. But unlike, say, Eliot, Ammons has tongue in cheek as he leads you down the path of his upstate New York spring garden, past the quince bushes and the cardinals in the backyard, then suddenly sends you hurtling out of our solar system and beyond the Milky Way for quite another view: only it really is the same view because the discrete (form) is only the manifestation of possibility or potential which is motion-energy-spirit-mystery-radiance. In a way, the concrete universe is only so much platonic furniture, or ""a trellis, precise, consistent, which after all only holds/ up a bush,"" and it corresponds suspiciously to poetry itself -- even to this particular poem. You wouldn't say this poem ""develops"" because it seems, like the universe again, to create its own unfathomable logic out of the force of random motion, realizing itself a moment at a time in paradigm and symbol. Why shouldn't Ammons be confident of its perfection? Everything arrives at a climactic exclamation point: ""we're dear: we're ourselves: we're sailing!"" An intergalactic roller coaster into all sorts of hypnotic zones of ""perplexing multeity"" -- a major achievement from a mature poet, whose Collected Poems: 1951-1971 won a National Book Award last year.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1974
Publisher: Norton