Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

Ars Poetica -- Archibald MacLeish

Continuing what is fast becoming a joint theme...
(Poem #188) 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
-- Archibald MacLeish
  In the code language of criticism when a poem is said to be about poetry
  the word "poetry" is often used to mean: how people construct an
  intelligibility out of the randomness they experience; how people choose
  what they love; how people integrate loss and gain; how they distort
  experience by wish and dream; how they perceive and consolidate flashes of
  harmony; how they (to end a list otherwise endless) achieve what Keats
  called a "Soul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity."

        -- Helen Vendler, poetry critic

Rather unsurprisingly, if you think about it, a number of poets have taken a
break from mirroring reality, and turned their gaze inwards, whether upon
other poets, other poems, the nature and role of the Poet, or, most
reflexively, the nature and role of Poetry.

Today's poem is a beautiful example. Titled Ars Poetica - 'the Art of
Poetry'[1] - it attempts to prescribe the nature of poetry, and - in a move
Hofstadter would have loved - does so in the form of a poem. Furthermore, it
does not seek to sidestep the possible pitfalls and inconsistencies this
approach leaves it open to - rather it meets them head on, using words like
'mute', 'dumb' and 'wordless' to set up a paradox culminating in the
wonderful last stanza, 'a poem should not mean / but be'.

En route, the main thread is woven through with several exquisite images,
speaking to the reader even as it advocates silence, progressing even as it
advocates motionlessness. And yet, at the end, it does resolve itself into a
seamless, integrated whole, as perfectly self-contained as the globed fruit,
or the timeless, frozen stillness of a winter's night. The reader is free to
pick it apart, to tease meaning from the tapestry of contradictions and
images. As for the poem, it simply is.

[1] and not, as several overingenious students have suggested, 'poetry my
a**e' <g>


A nice serial analysis of the poem can be found at
<> - I don't agree with every
one of his points, but overall he's done a nice job.

MacLeish, Archibald

 b. May 7, 1892, Glencoe, Ill., U.S.
 d. April 20, 1982, Boston

  U.S. poet, playwright, teacher, and public official, whose concern for
  liberal democracy figured in much of his work, although his most memorable
  lyrics are of a more private nature.

There's an online biography at <[broken link]>
and another at <[broken link]>


102 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Peter Rashkin said...

"For all the history of grief"

is one of my favorite all-time lines.

Peter Rashkin

McGillicuddy Colin said...

If this is too lengthy, or too esoteric for your liking, you might try X. J.
Kennedy's "Ars Poetica" ; )

Trish Sutherland said...

Hello, I am only a junior in high school, but that poem is "The End of
the World". Just happen to be doing work on MacLeish and am specifically
explicating these 2 poems. Thanks for the input, it is a great help.

Loretta Cobb said...

Just wanted to say I'm so impressed a junior high student is doing work on McLeish. I'm an ancient, retired junior high English teacher. Good for you and your teacher.

David Saliba said...

"The armless ambidextrian"

The poem is titled: "The End of the World"


Senior Manager Documentation Development

FrontRange Solutions Inc.

Direct phone:Send your feedback on any of our user documentation to

Optimize the Customer Experience(tm)

Stephen Schoene said...

On the next full moon - go out and watch the moon rise through the branches of a favorite tree - the poem makes us aware of what a magical experience that can be.

Aviva Rosensweig said...

The macleish poem you are looking for is called The End of the World

The End of the World

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing -- nothing at all.

-- Archibald MacLeish
<[broken link]>

Michael Scallan said...

I think the poem you are describing is “Constantly Risking Absurdity” by
Lawrence Ferhunghetti (my spelling of his name may be off ). He was one of
the beat poets, contemporary of Alan Ginsburg and Jack Keroac.

I hope that helped. If it is correct, it is a wonderful poem, if not, well
it is still a wonderful poem.


Mike scallan

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG.
Version: 7.5.518 / Virus Database: 269.21.7/1325 - Release Date: 2008/03/11
01:41 PM

Eagle said...

Mackleish has set a example of producing a good poem.What is the quality of a good poem he has shown in his poem.I think he is not absolutely perfect.Actually there is no limitation about a poem.Poem should be boundaryless.

Anonymous said...

This Is Bullshit..

Anonymous said...

how is it's ryhme scheme? perfect en ryhme masculine?

kustom said...

im also a junior in high school and im doing an essay on this is this an okk into:
The poem ‘Ars poetica’ written by Archibald McLeish is an extremely inspiring poem due to the imagination and wonder; also has a highly interesting title which has a tempting meaning to it. ‘Ars Poetica’ is a Latin word meaning ‘Art of poetry’ or ‘the nature of poetry’ Archibald McLeish attempts to prescribe poetry in an imaginative way, he displays the true and honest meaning to poetry his aim is to let readers know that imagination and passion is necessary in poetry.

Natural Candida Cures said...

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.

Anonymous said...

Rules of poetry and imaginations of the poet here in Ars Poetica are beyond description

Anonymous said...

What does night and winter symbolize ?

Anonymous said...

Why does the poet compare a poem to the moon?

Anonymous said...

makes my head hurt dammit!

Anonymous said...



Unknown said...

Confido is the #1 Ayurvedic medicine for treating premature ejaculation. For exclusive discounts on Confido tablets, get in touch with right now!

Anonymous said...

"The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked."


“A poem should be equal to:…
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf”

masterfully HITCH!!!

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

levitra is considerably cheaper than other anti-impotence drugs available in the market. For striking details on levitra prices and levitra mechanism, log in to href="

Anonymous said...

Howdy. I am wondering if you would be interested in doing a
link swap? I notice your blog:

g?blogID=3138327498205434204&postID=8634525730978232551 and my website are based mostly around the same subject matter.
I'd really like to switch links or perhaps guest author a post for you. Here is my personal contact: You should contact me if you're even remotely interested.
Thank you so much.

Feel free to visit my web page; automatske

Anonymous said...

Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically
tweet my newest twitter updates. I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

my web site: reviews

Bank Terbaik di Indonesia said...

Thanks for the informative blog. The place else may possibly just I get that kind of info written in such a excellent approach? I’ve a venture that I’m just now operating on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such info.

support : Kata Bijak | Zodiak | Cerpen Cinta | Kata Bijak

Anonymous said...

Hi! It seems as though we both have a passion for the same thing.
Your blog, "Blogger: The Wondering Minstrels" and mine are very similar.
Have you ever thought of writing a guest article for a similar website?
It will certainly help gain exposure to your blog (my site recieves a lot
of traffic). If you happen to be interested, contact me at: danilay@gmail.
com. Thank you

My web-site - pakerice

Anonymous said...

So sad that such a page is targeted by spammers and advertisers....sigh...

Anonymous said...

Excellent website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums
that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
I'd really like to be a part of community where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

Feel free to visit my homepage - news
Also see my web page > recovery

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your personal marvelous posting!

I quite enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.
I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and
will come back someday. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a nice holiday weekend!

My site - work

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your
articles? I mean, what you say is important and all. But
just imagine if you added some great visuals or videos to
give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but
with images and clips, this website could certainly be one
of the very best in its niche. Excellent blog!

Feel free to visit my web page; ventilation

Unknown said...

i really like your blog a lot jogos de moto

Andison said...

actual information, all information which is helpful cara memperbesar penis terbaik given once for all

Unknown said...

indeed a cool website like this must, always puts a lot of satisfaction minimalist bedroom design | specifications and price and benefit its visitors.

Anonymous said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

the rice purity test said...

Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!
rice purity test website
rice purity test score

Lottery Sambad PDF said...

I really admire your artwork and this is a good piece of hardwork. i really love this poem.
i am also an author and my name is Aiditi


sustoiy said...

the Sambad give prizes to the big number of participants. Defiantly, they can’t give the same prize to every winner. That’s why the prize has been rank according to the winning ranking. If you win the first prize,

sdf said...

Through this website you have shown the study to people who are Incredible. The information that each person gets in an easy way is scarce. But the information will help people with your information.
Search Lottery Result Here
lottery sambad
lottery sambad today result
West Bengal State lottery
Nagaland State Lottery
Sikkim State Lottery
lottery sambad
West Bengal state Lottery
lottery sambad night
Nagaland state Lottery
lottery sambad
West Bengal State Lottery
Nagaland State lottery
GBWhatsapp Download
lottery sambad
lottery sambad
Satta king

translation in dubai said...

dear lotterysambad
you can Get The Result of Sikkim State Lottery

ghostus said...

Altadefinizione, film e serie tv streaming in alta definizione online.Guarda HD Streaming senza registrazione.Altadefinizione nuovo sito e dominio


Guarda HD Streaming

film e serie tv streaming said...

Lottery Sambad Today” Result 11 AM, Lottery Sambad Result 4:00 PM and Lottery Sambad 8 PM right here from this page. Stay tuned to check your lottery sambad result of the day. Lottery Sambad draw held fairly under the State rules and regulations.

Diana Eli said...

hello everyone. I am using this medium to share a wonderful encounter about Dr Ogodo herbal mixture cream for penis enlargement indeed that herbalist is a life friends thought am a gay cause they hardly see me with women but they never knew i have small penis and erectile dysfunction [ED] but the amazing part of the story is my penis started functioning after using Dr Ogodo herbal mixture cream.i can also see a lot of people testifying about his works on facebook,instagram and internet please kindly contact this herbalist for any health issues such as [1]HERPES[2]CANCER[3]DIABETES[4]HIV/STD[5]KIDNEY DISEASE[6]ANAL WART[7]HEPATITIS[8]LOW SPERM COUNT[9]COPD[10]COLON CANCER[11]STROKE[12]DIARRHEA[13]CIRRHOSIS[14]CAD

Seira said...

Di indonesia permainan sbobet ini sangatlah terkenal karena bisa di bilang permainan sbobetasia ini adalah pelopor permainan judi online di indonesia, dengan perkembangan yang sangat cepat ini banyak sekali agen sbobet indonesia yang telah memberikan promo dan bonus menarik untuk bermain di tempatnya. Kami yang telah menjadi agen sbobet online indonesia sudah di percayai oleh jutaan pemain judi di indonesia untuk melayaninya.
Poker Indonesia
SBOBET Indonesia Online
IDN Poker Asia
Judi Bola Online

Unknown said...

nice blog check Lottery sambad result here we provide lottery resultand sikkim state 11:55 AM lottery result

Unknown said...

Nice post Love it Sattaking check my site Satta King

918kiss apk said...

918kiss is now available for free download and scr888 or kiss918 ⚡ claim your game credit for free now, Support android and ios devices.

Best Regards:

Seo Group Buy Tools said...

group buy seo tools, shared access to the best SEO tools are a solution for providing best SEO Analysis Tools for digital marketers and SEO experts.
Best Regards:
seo group buy

My Seo Dr said...

Boost Your business by Increasing Your Search Ranking with Help from Our Experts. SEO Solutions For All Shapes & Sizes. Let Our Team of Experts Help You Rise Above The Rest.

Best Regards:
seo agency malaysia

JEGGAR said...


Satta Matka said...

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
Regards: "satta matka"

Barrister London said...

I read that Post and got it fine and informative.
Regards: direct access barristers

Unknown said...

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
Regards: "Blackpods"

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing an informative article.
Regards: "Pinoy Teleserye"

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I am the first time visitor of your post. I am glad to be here. I wish to suggest one thing here that you can try out satta matka and experience the power of this lottery game.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing very informative article.
Regards: physion massage gun

Dental Implant said...

Replace your missing teeth with Dental Implant KL.For more info and to schedule an appointment, contact Dental Implants today!

James Anderson said...

Your Article is no doubt very helpful for me and hope, also for the other visitors. I requested to maintain your standard. Thanks for publishing.

Skip Hire Huddersfield
Skip Hire
Skip Hire

Unknown said...

Great things you’ve always shared with us. Just keep writing this kind of posts.
Regards: Healthhart

James Anderson said...

Your Article is no doubt very helpful for me and hope, also for the other visitors. I requested to maintain your standard. Thanks for publishing.

Skip Hire
Skip Hire

Unknown said...

Great Article android based projects

Java Training in Chennai Project Center in Chennai Java Training in Chennai projects for cse The Angular Training covers a wide range of topics including Components, Angular Directives, Angular Services, Pipes, security fundamentals, Routing, and Angular programmability. The new Angular TRaining will lay the foundation you need to specialise in Single Page Application developer. Angular Training Project Centers in Chennai

Nagaland State Lottery said...

Why wasn’t I invited for the snap then? This is a perfect example of a quality portrait of a quality human being.
Bodoland Lottery Result
Kolkata FF Fatafat Result
Bhutan lottery result
Rajshree Lottery Result

Nagaland State Lottery said...

You are the superhot thing to have graced this planet since the Yucatan meteorite.
Kolkata ff
Kolkata fatafat

Nagaland State Lottery said...

Frankly, I can never imagine not being in the company of someone amazing like you.
Lottery Sambad
Sikkim State Lottery
Nagaland State Lottery

우리카지노 said...

There must have been many difficulties in providing this information. 우리카지노 Nevertheless, thank you for providing such high-quality information.

Samad said...

Pеrmаіnаn situs WD138 Slot Login ѕеndіrі mеruраkаn turunаn dаrі реrmаіnаn саѕіnо ѕlоt gаmе уаng ѕudаh ѕаngаt рорulеr dі іndоnеѕіа. Dеngаn mеnggunаkаn lаtаr slot online tеntunуа аndа аkаn mеndараtkаn ѕеdіkіt kеѕаn mеnаntаng раdа ѕааt bеrmаіn. Sеrtа hаdіаh jackpot slot online terbesar indonesia уаng аkаn mеmbuаt bоѕku ѕеmаkіn mеnіkmаtі tаruhаn judi slot uang asli WD138 Slot Login. website

Steves Mini Skip Hire said...

Hi Everyone
Steves Mini Skip Hire specializes in Mini Skip Hire in Winslow and Buckinghamshire.
Skip Hire Winslow
Mini Skips Milton Keynes
Thanks for sharing

Post a Comment