Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Poetry: Ars Poetica

Archibald MacLeish was a leader in a new wave of poetry.  He believed that poems should not be analyzed and studied because it took away from the beauty of the poem itself.  His ultimate statement on the matter was his poem Ars Poetica.  His poem made the argument that poems should not be arguments but art.

Of course the irony is that in order for his poem to make that point, it has to be more than art.  It has to be also argument.

Regardless, it is a pretty poem

Ars Poetica

by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.


A poem should be motionless in time 
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves, 
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time 
As the moon climbs.


A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

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