The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The title of “Easter Morning” refers not only to the Easter-morning walk taken near the end of the poem but also to the spiritual and seasonal renewal that the phrase suggests. The “letter-perfect” Easter morning of the poem comes when the poem shifts from what seems to be a dead end of insurmountable incompletions to a scene in nature that suggests a renewal and rebirth.

The speaker of the poem is clearly the poet himself; A. R. Ammons usually writes in his own voice, and his repeated subject is nature and its processes. “Easter Morning” begins with a startling declaration: “I have a life that did not become/ that turned aside and stopped,/ astonished.” Ammons compares it to a “pregnancy” or a child “on my lap” that did not grow. It is the potential life that he might have lived, the path he might have taken, or perhaps the child he left behind when he grew up and began to think and act as an adult. He returns to the “grave” of this child that is within him and will die with him; the grave “will not heal.” The grave is an end, not a new beginning or an answer to his dilemma.

He returns to his “home country” and finds a similar “return” that also will not heal. He returns to visit all of his uncles and aunts, and his mother and father. The closeness between them is movingly expressed; they are as close as “burrowing under skin.” They are, however, “all in the graveyard/ assembled, done for, the...

(The entire section is 550 words.)