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

Modified on April 27, 2023

39 sec read
182

Quick analysis:

Scheme aa bb cc xx DE xx xx DE ff gg xh xh
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 644
Words 131
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2

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!"
    LikeReply3 years ago

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"Ars Poetica" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 23 Jul 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/3746/ars-poetica>.

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