Dialectal Argument Structure

The poem I looked at to work within class was Hymn by A.R. Ammons. What appealed to me first was the way he makes very clear arguments that oppose each other. He first says “I know if I find you I will have to leave earth/ and go on out,” which meant to me, he clearly recognized that if he found this godly figure, he was going to have to leave earth with this imminent feeling of never being able to return. We get this feeling of breeching into heaven with the lines, “and on up through the spheres of diminishing air/ past the blackest noctilucent clouds/ where one wants to stop and look”

The opposition of this original idea comes with the phrase “And I know if I find you I will have to say with the earth” Just the repetition of the “I know if I find you” draws attention to what is going on. In these lines, the narrator is saying that if he finds God, he will have to stay on the earth even if he wants to be with him. He will have to find him “everywhere partial and entire/ You are on the inside of everything and on the outside.”

His final repetition of this phrase comes with “and if I find you I must go out deep into your/ far resolutions/ and if I find you I must stay here with the separate leaves” which is where it feels as though the narrator has come to this recognition that there needs to be this separation between the relationship of him and God, even when he wishes he were closer with him physically. But the only way to do that really is to die and leave the earth behind, so it definitely shows the conflict within it. I liked that Ammons was able to show the narrator’s discontent with of having this problem with having to physically leave earth and get it up to be with God in contrast with staying on earth and recognizing that the relationship needs this distance while he is on earth.

From that poem, I really wanted to emulate this direct contradiction in the way the relationship is realized by the narrator. I was really attracted to the repetition and the way it worked as a whole.

I also looked at Joshua Clover’s “Radiant City” for guidance with this structure. I really enjoyed his enjambment throughout and how that kept the reader in suspense sort of of what was going to be contradicted or create this real tension within the poem. So I was attempting to use some of those techniques in my poem for class as well.

I’m not sure if this structure is for me. The structure is very complex to me, which when done well, is really strong, but at the same time, it’s almost as though I feel like I have to be this really philosophical person in order to produce a good poem in dialectical argument structure. And in that regard, I’m not sure that my subject matter, at least for my in class poem was strong enough to accomplish that. For instances, some things that conflicted on the list I was given was whether to text someone or call them, whether to go out or stay in, and whether to drink on a school night and do homework. I think it would be really difficult to pull off a poem in this structure with that as the subject. I’d be interested in trying it again though if I thought I found something more fitting for the complexity. 

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