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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish


Ars Poetica

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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Sound advice for any of the visual arts too.

3 comments:

Bpaul said...

I dig the sentiment, but the slant rhyme makes me grit my teeth.

<--- poetry bitch

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

I love the poem, but the advice is useless. Sure, a poem ought to "be", but it ought to be something more than just something that is.

Patrick Gracewood said...

Geoffrey, you mean Somerset Maugham quip that "Art for art's sake makes no more sense than gin for gin's sake."