For Edwin Wilson

By A. R. Ammons 1926–2001
Did wind and wave design the albatross's wing,
honed compliances: or is it effrontery to
suggest that the wing designed the gales and

seas: are we guests here, then, with all the
gratitude and soft-walking of the guest:
provisions and endurances of riverbeds,

mountain shoulders, windings through of tulip
poplar, grass, and sweet-frosted foxgrape:
are we to come into these and leave them as

they are: are the rivers in us, and the slopes,
ours that the world's imitate, or are we
mirrorments merely of a high designing aloof

and generous as a host to us: what would
become of us if we declined and staked out
a level affirmation of our own: we wind

the brook into our settlement and husband the
wind to our sails and blades: what is to
be grateful when let alone to itself, as for

a holiday in naturalness: the albatross, ah,
fishes the waves with a will beyond the
waves' will, and we, to our own doings, put

down the rising of sea or mountain slope: except
we do not finally put it down: still, till
the host appears, we'll make the masters here.

Source: Poetry (June 2008).

 A. R. Ammons

Biography

A. R. Ammons was born in rural North Carolina, and his experiences growing up on a cotton and tobacco farm during the Great Depression inspired a great deal of the poet's work. Ammons wrote his first poems while serving aboard a Navy destroyer during World War II. After the war, he completed his education, then held a variety of jobs before beginning his teaching career at Cornell University in 1964. Ammons once told the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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