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  • I know
  • there is
  • perfection in the being
  • of my being,
  • that I am
  • holy in amness
  • as stars or
  • paperclips,
  • that the universe,
  • moving from void to void,
  • pours in and out
  • through me:
  • there is a point,
  • only itself,
  • that fills space,
  • an emptiness
  • that is plenitude:
  • a void that is all being,
  • a being that is void:
  • I am perfect:
  • the wind is perfect:
  • ditchwater, running, is perfect:
  • everything is:

I raise my hand


Archie Randolph Ammons (1926–2001) was born in rural North Carolina, served aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer escort in the South Pacific, and after completing service in World War II attended Wake Forest University and the University of California, Berkeley. He began teaching at Cornell University in 1964 and retired in 1998. He was the recipient of numerous awards for his poetry, among them the National Book Award (twice), the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Come Prima” can be found in Ammons’s
Selected Poems, edited by David Lehman and published by the Library of America. It is reprinted by permission of Writers’ Representatives. Anyone seeking permission to use Ammons’s work may contact them at writersreps.com.

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