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Ars Poetica

Archibald MacLeish 1892 (Glencoe) – 1982 (Boston)

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
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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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Archibald MacLeish

Archibald MacLeish was an American poet, writer, and the Librarian of Congress. more…

All Archibald MacLeish poems | Archibald MacLeish Books

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1 Comment

  • Mikash
    "Ars Poetica" is one of My fave poems of all-time: it tastes and feels so good and pleasurable in the mouth as you read and speak it; it's so "palpable!"
    LikeReplyReport3 months ago

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"Ars Poetica" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/3746/ars-poetica>.

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