Archibald MacLeish

(7 May 1892 – 20 April 1982 / Glencoe, Illinois)

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

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: poem, history, memory, moon, grief, winter, sea, time, night, love, tree

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish )

Enter the verification code :

  • Kin Zweb (7/31/2012 12:11:00 AM)

    He all-time best poem ever written. The epitome of Imagist verse. Contains seven vignettes unparalleled in succinctness of expression. The reader must, of course, 'flesh out' the bare bones MacLeish lays out, but what a pleasure to reread, from the opening lines! (Report) Reply

  • Jessica Fay Harding (4/4/2010 12:09:00 PM)

    I love this poem! It's one of my favourite ones that embodies the free spirit of poetry and how this freedom is ruined by scrupulous examination of its' verses. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. Prophecy, Edwin Cordevilla
  2. Junkyard, Kyle Schlicher
  3. Below the Earth, Keith Waldrop
  4. The Real Subject [Whir], Keith Waldrop
  5. The Luxury of Hesitation [excerpt from T.., Keith Waldrop
  6. Midnight Pain, Rites Ghosh
  7. Sea Oats Wavering, Kyle Schlicher
  8. Tuning, Keith Waldrop
  9. The Balustrade, Keith Waldrop
  10. Soft Hail, Keith Waldrop

Poem of the Day

poet Wilfred Owen

All sounds have been as music to my listening:
Pacific lamentations of slow bells,
The crunch of boots on blue snow rosy-glistening,
Shuffle of autumn leaves; and all farewells:

...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]