Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

A. R. Ammons

A. R. Ammons

Poetry books frequently have pretentious, academic titles. However, The National Book Award-winning American poet, A.R. Ammons (1926-2001), wrote a popular poetry book simply entitled Garbage (1993). The title of this book is both attention-grabbing and ironic, considering that Ammons writes with vivid, insightful observations of natural imagery. The poet adventurously explores the relationship between nature and humanity in both solemn and comical tones.

A.R. Ammons, Tea and Poetry Books, StudySmarterFig. 1 - A. R. Ammons is frequently compared to the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wallace Stevens, and Walt Whiteman.

A.R. Ammons: Biography

Archibald Randolph Ammons was born on February 18, 1926, in a rural American town outside of Whiteville, North Carolina. Ammons spent his early life on a tobacco farm. The nature of the American countryside is a constant source of inspiration for his poetry. His poetry explores the relationship between humans and nature in characteristically solemn and comical tones.

A. R. Ammons, Tobacco Farms, StudySmarterFig. 2 - A tobacco farm in North Carolina — In A.R. Ammons's poetry, nature is a channel for human experiences and emotions.

A.R. Ammons never wanted to be a proper poet confined to rigid expectations and pretensions. He was a military man during World War II and started writing poetry while on a U.S. Navy warship in the South Pacific.

After his military service, A.R. Ammons pursued a biology degree at Wake Forest University. He graduated in 1949, became an elementary school principal, and married his wife, Phyllis Plumbo. Ammons went on to pursue a Masters in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ammons was a prolific poet and wrote nearly 30 collections of poetry during his lifetime. His first poetry collection, Ommateum: With Doxology, was published in 1955. Some of his other significant poetry collections include Briefings (1971), Collected Poems 1951-1971 (1972), Sphere (1974), A Coast of Trees (1981), Garbage (1993), and Glare (1997).

The word ommatuem refers to the eye of an insect or crustacean. The word doxology means an expression of praise to God. What themes do you think A.R. Ammons's first poetry collection, Ommateum: With Doxology contains?

A.R. Ammons worked as a real estate agent, an editor, and a director at his father's biological glass company before beginning an academic career. In 1964, Ammons began working for the Ivy League School, Cornell University. He served as a Professor of English and the Poet in Residence until retiring in 1998. Ammons' famous students include the poets Alice Fulton, Ann Loomis Silsbee, and Jerald Bullis.

A.R. Ammons: Death

A.R. Ammons died of cancer at the age of 75. The poet died in his home in Ithaca, New York on February 25, 2001. He was survived by his wife, Phyllis.

A.R. Ammons: Accomplishments

A.R. Ammons won numerous awards for his unique poetry collections.

The poet won the National Book Award for Poetry in both 1973 and 1993 for his poetry books Collected Poems, 1951-1971 (1972) and Garbage (1993).

Ammons also won the Wallace Stevens Award, the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Medal, and the Ruth Lily Prize. In 1975, he won the Bollinger Prize for his book Sphere (1974); in 1981, he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his poetry collection A Coast of Trees (1981).

The poet received the MacArthur Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

A.R. Ammons: Poetic Style

A.R. Ammons was an experimental poet when in came to form. He frequently wrote single-line poems, as well as single poems that made up entire books.

Monostich Poems

Ammons is famous for writing many monostich poems. A monostich poem is a poem that is made up of only one line of poetry (Ammons also wrote poems comprised of split monostich lines and multiple monostich lines separated by breaks). The brevity and compactness of monostich poems leaves the reader with a single, concrete message to contemplate.

Ammons’s short poems often have an instant impact and make use of imagery, humor, surprise, and irony. A popular monostich poem by A.R. Ammons is the poem “Coward,” from the poet’s 1990 collection, The Really Short Poems of A.R. Ammons:

Bravery runs in my family”

Notice that in short poems, the title is highly significant. In this case, the poet creates a sense of irony, seeing as calling someone a coward is the opposite of calling someone brave. Ammons juxtaposes cowardliness with bravery to catch the reader’s attention and to suggest that a coward is someone who relies on other people to be brave.

Book-length Poems

A.R. Ammons wrote several long poems that made up entire books. Some of his book-length poems include Tape for the Turn of the Year (1965), Sphere (1974), and Garbage (1993).

The poet‘s poem, Garbage, is presented in a 131-page book split into 18 sections. The entire poem is written entirely in couplets. Ammons uses this form to present his lines of poetry as individual snapshots as a part of a lengthy stream of ideas. The poem Garbage explores the ideas of the wash, waste, and decay of life through descriptions of mundane occurrences and nature. The poet presents this all from a uniquely witty, philosophical, and spiritual perspective.

A.R. Ammons: Poetry Books

A.R. Ammons wrote nearly 30 books of poetry. These include both his book-length poems, as well as his collections of shorter poems.

Briefings (1971)

Briefings is a collection of over 80 short, lyric poems about life and nature. A.R. Ammons frequently writes in short lines of poetry with vivid bursts of natural imagery.

A lyric poem is a short, songlike poem typically used to convey strong emotions or feelings from the first-person perspective.

Sphere (1974)

Sphere is a long poem written by A.R. Ammons, which won the Bollinger Prize. The title refers to the spherical shape of the Earth and explores zoomed-out and close-up views of life from galaxies to gas stations. Ammons' poetry is likened to that of the famous American poet, Wallace Stevens.

A Coast of Trees (1981)

A Coast of Trees is a poetry collection that won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. Ammons's poetry balances scientific and subjective perspectives through imagery of the universe. Notable poems from A Coast of Trees include “Continuing,” “Swells,” “Easter Morning,” “Keepsake,” “Givings,” and “Persistence.”

A.R. Ammons: Best Poems

A.R. Ammons wrote hundreds of poems, highlighted below are his notable poems “Cut the Grass,” “Elegy for a Jet Pilot,” “Continuing,” and “Getting Through.” All of these poems exhibit Ammonds's focus on nature and philosophy as a poet influenced by Transcendentalism.

Transcendentalism is a form of Romanticism developed by the American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson in the mid-1800s. The principles of Transcendentalism revolve around the idea that nature and everything in the world exist to lend meaning and individual experiences to the human soul.

“Cut the Grass” (1970)

“Cut the Grass” is a poem that exemplifies A.R. Ammons's classic style of intertwining meditation on nature with human musings. In the following excerpt of “Cut the Grass,” the speaker presents his own nervousness through the imagery of a dying “squash blossom” and a “stained zucchini”:

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” (1-6)

A.R. Ammons uses few periods in his poetry to create a flowing feel to the words. The poet frequently uses colons to preface or distinguish ideas. What do you think is the effect of Ammons's use of colons in this poem?

A. R. Ammons, Squash Flowers, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Squash and zucchini plants produce large, vibrant flowers that wither as the plants mature.

“Elegy for a Jet Pilot” (1972)

“Elegy for a Jet Pilot” is a 20-line poem from his National Book Award-winning poetry collection, Collected Poems, 1951-1971. The poem is a modern elegy that touches on the idea of death from a depersonalized perspective. Rather than discussing grief and describing death, the poet emphasizes the motion of a jet as it takes off into the evening sky and ends up crashing into the brush of the American countryside.

The blast skims

over the string

of takeoff lights

and

relinquishing

place and time

lofts to

separation:” (1-8)

Notice how the poet uses short lines of poetry to create space to savor the language and imagery.

“Continuing” (1981)

“Continuing” is a poem from A.R. Ammons's poetry collection, A Coast of Trees (1981). In this excerpt from the poem, Ammons uses anthropomorphism to reflect the speaker's feelings through the voice of a mountain. He makes a point that nature speaks to itself as people do:

what becomes of things:

well, the mountain said, one

mourns the dead but who

can mourn those the dead mourned;

back a way

they sift in a tearless

place:” (15-21)

Anthropomorphism vs. Personification

Anthropomorphism and personification are commonly confused literary devices. To best understand the difference between the two, remember that anthropomorphism is a literal attribution of human characteristics to non-human things. On the other hand, personification is a figurative attribution of human characteristics to non-human things.

A.R. Ammonds writing about a mountain that is literally talking is an example of anthropomorphism. If the poet were to say that the mountain was smiling down on the hikers, this would be personification. The mountain is not actually smiling, but the poet is implying that the mountain is so tall that it is as if it is amiably looking down at the people.

“Getting Through” (1981)

“Getting Through” is another poem from A.R. Ammons's poetry collection, A Coast of Trees (1981). The poem is a classic example of the American poet's fascination with the relationship between humans and nature. Once again, human states and emotions are presented through the imagery of nature:

the ledge bends way

over as if to contemplate

its solution in a spill:

right now I think

the skinny old arborvita's

roots may be holding everything

together:” (9-15)

The poet's description of the water's ledge contemplating a spill is an example of personification. An example of anthropomorphism would be if the water were to say, “I am contemplating spilling over.”

A. R. Ammons - Key takeaways

  • A.R. Ammons is an American poet who lived from 1926 until 2001.
  • A.R. Ammons won the National Book Award for Poetry in both 1973 and 1993 for his poetry books, Collected Poems, 1951-1971 (1972) and Garbage (1993).
  • Ammons wrote nearly 30 poetry books, including Briefings (1971), Collected Poems 1951-1971 (1972), Sphere (1974), A Coast of Trees (1981), Garbage (1993), and Glare (1997).
  • Some significant poems by A.R. Ammons are “Cut the Grass,” “Elegy for a Jet Pilot,” “Continuing,” and “Getting Through.”
  • Ammons' explores the relationship between nature and humanity through his poetry.

Frequently Asked Questions about A. R. Ammons

The themes of the poem “Continuing” by A.R. Ammons are nature, growth, and decay.

The theme of "Getting Through" by A.R. Ammons is the relationship between nature and humanity.  

A.R. Ammons wrote hundreds of poems. He wrote nearly 30 poetry books. 

Archibald Randolph Ammons is a famous American poet who won the National Book Award for his poetry books, Collected Poems, 1951-1971 (1972) and Garbage (1993).

A.R. Ammons likely abbreviates his name because his full name, Archibald Randolph Ammons, is quite long. 

Final A. R. Ammons Quiz

Question

Who is the author of the poem “Elegy for a Jet Pilot”?

Show answer

Answer

A.R. Ammons

Show question

Question

What type of poem is “Elegy for a Jet Pilot”?

Show answer

Answer

Modern Elegy 

Show question

Question

What is the meaning of the poem?

Show answer

Answer

Death can be sudden, anticlimactic, and understated

Show question

Question

What are two themes found in the poem? 

Show answer

Answer

Death and nature

Show question

Question

Which of the following experiences likely influenced the poet’s writing? 

Show answer

Answer

His WWII military service

Show question

Question

What is the atmosphere of the poem? 

Show answer

Answer

Calm 

Show question

Question

The “plume” that “grows across the high-lit evening sky” refers to what? 

Show answer

Answer

The jet stream trail or contrail

Show question

Question

What is an elegy?

Show answer

Answer

A type of poem that expresses remembrance for the dead 

Show question

Question

True or False: The poet describes the Jet Pilot. 

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

In the poem, what is flight a metaphor for?

Show answer

Answer

Life 

Show question

Question

True or False: The whole poem is one sentence. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following sound related literary devices does the poet not use? 

Show answer

Answer

Onomatopoeia 

Show question

Question

shot pinecones,
skinned huckleberry
bush, laurel” is an example of which literary device?

Show answer

Answer

Juxtaposition

Show question

Question

True or False: A.R. Ammons explores the relationship between nature and humanity in both solemn and comical tones.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Where did A.R. Ammons grow up? 

Show answer

Answer

North Carolina

Show question

Question

What kind of farm did A.R. Ammons grow up on?

Show answer

Answer

A tobacco farm

Show question

Question

True or False: A.R. Ammons was in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not one of Ammons's poetry collections? 

Show answer

Answer

Saplings 

Show question

Question

Which University did Ammons work at from 1964 until 1998?

Show answer

Answer

Cornell University 

Show question

Question

For which two poetry books did Ammons with the National Book Award for Poetry?

Show answer

Answer

Collected Poems, 1951-1971 and Garbage

Show question

Question

Briefings is a collection of over 80 short, lyric poems. What is a lyric poem? 

Show answer

Answer

A lyric poem is a short, songlike poem typically used to convey strong emotions or feelings from the first-person perspective. 

Show question

Question

Which philosophical movement influenced A. R. Ammons's writing? 

Show answer

Answer

Transcendentalism 

Show question

Question

What is a common theme in Ammons's writing? 

Show answer

Answer

Nature 

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a poem by A.R. Ammons? 

Show answer

Answer

Leaves of Grass

Show question

Question

Who is the author of Briefings?

Show answer

Answer

A.R. Ammons

Show question

Question

Briefings: Poems Small and Easy is a collection of more than 80 short, lyric poems. What is a lyric poem?

Show answer

Answer

Lyric poems are short, songlike poems that typically convey strong emotions from the first person perspective.

Show question

Question

What is the title of the first poem in the collection?

Show answer

Answer

"Center"

Show question

Question

What are the two main themes of the poetry collection?

Show answer

Answer

Human emotions and nature

Show question

Question

True or False: The poem, Elegy for a Jet Pilot” exemplifies Ammons’ characteristic ironic tone.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What is the title of the final poem in the collection?

Show answer

Answer

"The City Limits"

Show question

Question

What is the meaning of Briefings?

Show answer

Answer

The overall meaning of Briefings by A.R Ammons is that life is experienced through a series of struggles and human emotions of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, which can be represented and understood through the mysteries of nature

Show question

Question

What does the waterfall represent in the poem "Center"?

Show answer

Answer

A waterfall represents the strong, powerful beauty of nature, but also the idea of excess and the feeling of being overwhelmed. 

Show question

Question

"A bird fills up the / stream side bush / with wasteful song / capsizes waterfall," is an example of which literary device?

Show answer

Answer

Alliteration

Show question

Question

True or False: Ultimately, Ammons expresses that the mystery of nature, though capable of amplifying fear, also points to the greater purpose and beauty of human life.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the A. R. Ammons quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.