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]>


63 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)

Doug said...


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?

vigrx plus said...

penis enlargement, penis enlargement pills, male enhancement, male enhancement pills

Penis enlargement pills have been proven is the best way to make the penis bigger and effective to increase men’s sexual performance.vimax pills, vigrx plus, prosolution pills, maleextra

Anonymous said...

makes my head hurt dammit!

Jasa Seo said...

Tiket Pesawat Murah | Sari Jahe | Promo | Info Promo Diskon Hari Ini | Diskon | Promo Diskon | Harga Tiket Pesawat | Temulawak | Photo Prewedding | UPVC WINDOW | Kamera CCTV | Jual CCTV | Pasang CCTV | Minuman Suplemen | Tiket Pesawat Murah | Harga Tiket Pesawat | Tiket Pesawat Online

Kim Kardashian Bugil | wallpaper lucu | Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik | Info Terkini | Harga Notebook | Jasa Seo | Jasa Seo | apa seo | Layanan Seo | Konsultan Seo
I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. I think it may be help all of you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...



wood 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...


wood 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

Paul Reed said...

Thanks for the sharing, this blog is very intersting. ELECTRONIC AND COMMUNICATION | Women Health Treatment | It's very informarmative and very knowladgeable blog.

Tammy Tahreem 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

Wilda Sari said...

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

Grosir Obat said...

Berikut kami akan membahas tentang bagai mana cara memperbesar penis dengan hasil cepat dan aman tanpa operasi

jika anda ingin memperbesar penis dengan hasil cepat,aman tanpa operasi itu mudah anda bisa pilih cara memperbesar penis dengan salah satu obat pembesar penis herbal seperti Neosize xl | obat Vimax | Vigrx Plus original

jika anda riskan konsumsi obat pembesar penis anda bisa pilih jalan lain seperti metode trapi ( pemakaian luar ) kami juga punya solusinya anda harus punya alat pembesar penis sejenis vacum penis atau Vimax Extender dan Pro Extender

Berikut penjelasan kami :

Apa Neosize Xl itu : Neosize Xl

Apa Vimax Asli itu : Vimax Asli Canada

Apa Vigrx Plus itu : Vigrx Plus

Apa Vacum Penis Itu : Vacum Penis

Apa Vimax Extender itu : Vimax Extender Asli

Apa Pro Extender itu : Pro Extender

Sekarang anda bisa tau rahasia cara memperbesar penis dengan aman tanpa operasi.selamat mencoba.

Vimax Asli said...

kini kami akan bahas tentang kesehatan dan kecantikan perawatan tubuh maupun pengobatan secara alami :

Berikut : obat peninggi badan

Berikut : obat pembesar payudara

Berikut : cara merontokan bulu permanen

Berikut : obat pelangsing badan

Berikut : cara sehat alami

Berikut : cara mempercantik wajah dan tubuh

Berikut : obat penggemuk badan

Berikut : cara mengobati ejakulasi dini

Berikut : Obat penyubur seperma

Berikut : penis bendera

Berikut : Alat Pembesar Payudara

Berikut : Obat kuat

Berikut : perangsang wanita

Berikut : alat bantu sex pria

Berikut : alat bantu sex wanita

Berikut : boneka full body

Berikut : Cara memperbesar penis

Berikut : Oil pembesar penis

Berikut : Celana Hernia

Berikut : vimax original

Berikut : ciri vimax asli

Berikut : Obat Kuat Sex Pria


Obat Herbal said...

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

Post a Comment