Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (8): “Corsons Inlet” by A. R. Ammons

It’s National Poetry Month. But beyond time, my recommendation stands.

Though it take all month, read one poem slowly, deeply, and again. Here’s a good candidate. Twice winner of the National Book Award, A. R. Ammons embraces–and shows us how to embrace–through close attention born of brave openness: freedom, motion, disorder, uncertainty, change, beauty, nature, life. And shorebirds. Gotta have shorebirds.

“Corsons Inlet” by A. R. Ammons – An excerpt from the poem’s mid-section:

. . . 
risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life: the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
          the shallows, darts to shore
                   to stab—what? I couldn’t
   see against the black mudflats—a frightened
   fiddler crab?

          the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
          fall: thousands of tree swallows
          gathering for flight . . .

- from "Corsons Inlet" by A. R. Ammons 
Read the full poem on the Poetry Foundation website, 
quoted from The Selected Poems: Expanded Edition 
(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1986)

See also Norton's list of other titles by A. R. Ammons.
IMG_1684_swallow

suspected tree swallow, rocks like dunes, The Glens Trail, Gorge Metro Park, Akron, Ohio, May 2017. Image © by C. L. Tangenberg


If you enjoyed this, you might also like:


Other posts in my series on famous nature poetry:

  1. Nature Poetry by Famous Poets excerpting Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush”
  2. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1): Sun Spots
  3. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1a): “The Sunlight on the Garden”
  4. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (2): Elizabeth Bishop
  5. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (3): Wordsworth’s Daffodils
  6. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (4): Promise of a Fruitful Plath
  7. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (5): Of Mice, Men and Rabbie Burns
  8. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6): Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  9. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6)–Oh, NOW I Get It!: Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  10. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (7): Black Legacies
  11. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (9): “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1a): “The Sunlight on the Garden”

I would be remiss if I neglected this addendum to my last post‘s “sun spots”: the opening stanza of a cherished poem I once had memorized, “The Sunlight on the Garden” by Irish poet Louis MacNeice.

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told 
We cannot beg for pardon.

The regular meter, musical rhythm, and patterns of rhyme, as well as the poem’s simplicity and manageable length (24 lines), aid in its successful memorization and recitation. Published in 1938, it is half war poem and half nature poem, but at its heart, it is a nostalgic love song. I hope you’ll read it in its entirety.

In the next post of this nature verse series, I shine a spotlight on two Elizabeth Bishop poems.

For a different perspective on the sun, try: Original Poem: Of all the signs of spring


The entire Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry series

  1. Nature Poetry by Famous Poets excerpting Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush”
  2. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1a): “The Sunlight on the Garden”
  3. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (2): Elizabeth Bishop
  4. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (3): Wordsworth’s Daffodils
  5. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (4): Promise of a Fruitful Plath
  6. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (5): Of Mice, Men and Rabbie Burns
  7. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6): Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  8. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6)–Oh, NOW I Get It!: Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  9. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (7): Black Legacies
  10. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (8): “Corsons Inlet” by A. R. Ammons
  11. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (9): “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1): Sun Spots

For this first in a series of posts featuring nature verse by famous poets, I present to you little spots of sunlight, lines of poetry I love that describe the effects of the sun on different scenes and objects.

To celebrate summer and continue the theme from my last post of original sunset photos, here are a few splashes of poetic sunshine. (A slash mark indicates the end of a line.)


From “A Plain Song for Comadre” by Richard Wilbur:

“ . . . sometimes the early sun / shines as she flings the scrub water out, with a crash / of grimy rainbows, and the stained suds flash / Like angel-feathers . . .”

From “The Fish” by Marianne Moore:

“. . . submerged shafts of the / sun, / split like spun / glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness / into the crevices—”

From “Portrait d’une Femme” by Ezra Pound:

“For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things, / Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff: / In the slow float of differing light and deep . . .”

From “The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundews” by Amy Clampitt:

“But the sun / among the sundews, down there, / is so bright, an underfoot / webwork of carnivorous rubies, / a star-swarm thick as the gnats / they’re set to catch, delectable / double-faced cockleburs, each / hair-tip a sticky mirror / afire with sunlight, a million / of them and again a million, / each mirror a trap set to / unhand unbelieving, . . . // But the sun / underfoot is so dazzling / down there among the sundews, / there is so much light / in the cup that, looking, you start to fall upward.”


Equally dazzling, full versions of these poems are available online and in published collections. If you like any of the excerpts, check out the whole poem!

Or, ICYMI, catch the analyzed sample of Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush” I shared a few weeks ago as a prelude to this series.

Samples of my own nature verse on this blog appear in a series of 10 posts I call “Wild Verses: Bits of Nature Poetry.” Here is the last of those.

What are some of your favorite lines of sunny verse?


Other posts in my series on famous nature poetry:

  1. Nature Poetry by Famous Poets excerpting Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush”
  2. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (1a): “The Sunlight on the Garden”
  3. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (2): Elizabeth Bishop
  4. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (3): Wordsworth’s Daffodils
  5. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (4): Promise of a Fruitful Plath
  6. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (5): Of Mice, Men and Rabbie Burns
  7. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6): Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  8. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (6)–Oh, NOW I Get It!: Hugh MacDiarmid in Scots
  9. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (7): Black Legacies
  10. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (8): “Corsons Inlet” by A. R. Ammons
  11. Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry (9): “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

You may also enjoy a not-so-sunny musing upon the sun:

Original Poem: Of all the signs of spring