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  1. Introduction
  2. Costello's description of Ammons' earliest phase
  3. His description of the next phase of Ammons' career
  4. The act of self-reference
  5. The reason why Ammons might feel no need to discuss personal matters and the theory
  6. The physical manifestation of human waste
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

If one were to read through A.R. Ammons' poems, in chronological order, they would see a clear progression of tone and theme; his subject matter, as well as they voice he uses to portray it, goes through definite transformation as he becomes a more experienced poet and, perhaps most importantly, as he himself ages. Where the young Ammons writes scores of poems dedicated solely to conveying the beauty of the natural world, full of strong imagery and unique landscapes, the older ? seemingly wiser ? Ammons is more introspective, making observations about his own life, and how his personal situation is emblematic of society as a whole. Bonnie Costello, in her essay ?Ammons: Pilgrim, Sage, Ordinary Man,? introduces and defines those three titular ?characters,? or more exactly, personalities, as exhibited by Ammons in his work. Costello discusses these representations of the author in terms of subject matter, but one can also gain insight into Ammons by examining the way he treats the topic of environment in each of these stages; by examining the importance of surrounding as represented by Ammons during each of these phases, one gains a better understanding of the life experience and viewpoint of the author.

[...] The pilgrim is seemingly in awe of the natural world, lost within it as he begins to know himself. The sage searches for his own place within his environment, is inspired by his surroundings and seeks to stay as free as he has been, where the ordinary man is just that; one who has experienced these feelings, who has been lost within something greater than himself and who has, within the text, come to terms with the position this leaves him in. [...]

[...] For example: ?since SS's enough money hope) to live / from now on in elegance and simplicity? (Garbage 13) this gives us an absolutely human view of the aging author, portraying him in a nearly undignified light. Costello notes, revelation of pattern dominates here over the articulation of self. Problems of identity fall away and the self become a node of consciousness through which the shape of the world reveals itself? (139). While Ammons the sage did make several references to technology (in City Limits,? for example, Selected Works it is in this final phase that he begins to discuss the impact of this modernity on the natural world, and the hallmarks of his former self, that defined his earlier works. [...]

[...] We also see this force as one that inspires change within people who choose to observe it; in people, generally, but Ammons does point out that many choose to overlook the beauty of nature, and do not see the industry, the natural order that can be found. For Ammons personally, it is not enough that these elements exist; it is his view of these objects and events that serve as a catalyst for introspection and change. As Costello says of this era, this phase, then, Ammons retains the fiction of a disembodied, noncontingent consciousness that can locate itself within the infinite? (130). [...]

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