Ars Poetica

by 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.