Ars Poetica, by Archibald MacLeish

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Continuing my new Monday tradition of posting a poem that has influenced my own poetry writing, here is a poem by Archibald MacLeish. I have loved this poem for years and have tried to emulate its style before, but MacLeish writes in a way that I can’t seem to replicate.

Ars Poetica

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.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. zeckrombryan says:

    Nicely written! Love the way that you handled your language. Hope to see more from you. Keep up the good work. 😊😊😊


    1. Thanks! (And I take it you’re referring to my intro to the poem, since I did not write the poem itself.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. zeckrombryan says:

        You are welcome. 😊😊😊


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