09 March 2011

World Enough...and Time?

Two from A.R. Ammons that might work to focus our thinking after yesterday's post: the first "World", seems a thumbnail ecology (yet inclusive of all); the second, "Peak", diagnoses our dilemma as human mind within that ecology of "actual trees" and "high tides"--humans desire a place/time "beyond" the world in the poem "World" and the result...well, the final two lines could not be a more ruthless truth.


Breakers at high tide shoot
spray over the jetty boulders
that collects in shallow chips, depressions,

evening the surface to run-off level:
of these possible worlds of held water,
most can't outlast the interim tideless

drought, so are clear, sterile, encased with
salt: one in particular, though, a hole,
providing depth with little surface,

keeps water through the hottest day:
a slime of green algae extends into that
tiny sea, and animals tiny enough to be in a

world there breed and dart and breathe and
die: so we are here in this plant-created oxygen,
drinking this sweet rain, consuming this green.


Everything begins at the tip-end, the dying-out,
of mind:
the dazed eyes set and light
dissolves actual trees:

the world beyond: tongueless,
burns dimension out of shape,
opacity out of stone:

come: though the world ends and cannot
the apple falls sharp
to the heart starved with time.

["Peak" should have indents at the 2nd line, 5th line, and 11th.]


  1. 1. I like "World" as a mirror of the Earth as a very complex place that we rarely consider in our every day lives. Much of our goings-on ignore some of the simple wonders of algae, or consider our connection to these things. We rarely pause to reflect on the "plant-created oxygen;" most people would be likely to step on it and continue down the sand.

    2. "though the world ends and cannot / end" We think the world won't go on without us, but it will, and these days it would likely be better without us. Yes, we desire a world beyond the actual trees, but it means nothing in the end. The "trees" are life and reality, or as close to reality as we can perceive it with our limited senses.

  2. 1. World: "most can't outlast the interim tideless/drought,"--that is, a long view of all life...

    And it is only the confluence of vital energizing elements that yield vigorous life.

    And we, though writ "large" in our minds, are as this "hole" "providing depth". And it is not we who make it or control it...it is "world" in itself that IS without human agency.

    2. The apple falls: a) out of eden, b) science as "understanding".

    sharp/to the heart starved with time. "time" is "mind" here, isn't it? And the heart (bodily being) is starved of mind's conception of life and real being (actual trees).

  3. Yes, we've replaced the long view of ALL life with our own views of immortality, technologically drived. As non-biological beings we have stopped considering how me might feed Earth and the cycle of life by our simple biological processes. I don't mean procreation, I mean in a way more analogous to algae. We find our bodily functions and processes grotesque, and I guess they would be on a densely populated scale. (I think mankind has already found disease in these things on a gigantic, condensed scale.)

    Aren't most people offended/repulsed by the idea of their body being put back into the Earth after death? We don't want to think that we can rot and decay, but in doing so we fail to acknowledge that this process is also nurturing and gives way to new life.