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I collected this excerpt from a SAT preparation book. While I was reading this sentence, I was confused as to how to understand the bolded portion.

According to poet John Berryman, there were so many ways to ruin a poem that it was quite amazing good ones ever got written

Does it mean that there were so many ways to ruin a poem though it was beautifully written? Could anyone help me to understand the whole sentence clearly?

  • John Berryman was very amazed that good poems exist, because mistakes are easy to make while writing a poem; i.e., it is difficult to write poetry well. – John B Sep 23 '15 at 20:34
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    Just add (back) a 'that' after 'amazing' (the 'that' has been dropped) – Walter Sep 23 '15 at 22:11
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According to poet John Berryman, ...
(= John Berryman said or wrote or mentioned that...)

... there were so many ways to ruin a poem
(= It was so easy to ruin a poem -- because there were so many ways to ruin it)

... that it was quite amazing good ones ever got written.
(= The fact that good ones (good poems) ever got written was quite amazing)

In other words, in his opinion, it's so easy to ruin a poem. As a result, we should have had much fewer good poems than we do have. The fact that we have some good poems is quite amazing.

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