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Ars Poetica ~ Archibald MacLeish


 
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.
 
 
 
Copyright © Archibald MacLeish, “Ars Poetica” from Collected Poems 1917-1982.


featured image: borrowed from painter Jeffrey Hayes website
 
 
 

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