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Editor's Selection of Poems
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.
Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works