Bonnie Costello: On "Corsons Inlet"

In his best poems Ammons demonstrates the creative value of the alienated intelligence. He turns his burden to a levity with a truly happy tolerance between precept and particular.

One of Ammons's most famous poems, "Corsons Inlet" (Collected Poems 149-51), is constructed on just such a rhetorical model of appositional rather than organic or hierarchical relations between nature and mind. This "mirroring mind" is not mimetic so much as congruent, finding coordinates to match, not copy, the particulars of the landscape. Though haunted by the mind's ambition to totalize, by the quest for scope, it does not submit "reality to precept," nor precept to reality. The particular does not so much illustrate precept as help to shape it. Like Snyder, Ammons celebrates process in mind and nature, but Ammons does not identify mental and organic process. The walk is a refreshment of form and, paradoxically, a heightening of the temporality of thought through the spatial openness of landscape. Figurativeness is less reduced than given free play in the poem. If the poem thematically "accepts the becoming," it does so at no cost to poetic invention. On the contrary, the witness to natural process coincides with the expansion of figurative range.

From "The Soil & Man's Intelligence: Three Contemporary Landscape Poets." Contemporary Literature 30:3 (Fall 1989): 412-433.

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Criticism Overview
Title Bonnie Costello: On "Corsons Inlet" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Bonnie Costello Criticism Target A. R. Ammons
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 01 Apr 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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