A Poem Should Be…

macleish

Ars Poetica. According to both Merriam and Webster, it means “a treatise on the art of literary and especially poetic composition.” And strictly speaking, in the Dead Language (that’s Latin to you), it means “the art of poetry.”

Many poems carry this title, and it is considered a rite of passage to write your own Ars Poetica. Thus, if you count yourself a poet and haven’t written one, you should. I know, I know. What a pain in the ars.

So to start, think of this: What should a poem be?

Done? OK. Then here’s better advice: Think of what a poem should not be. Chances are, brainstorming this way will lead you to thoughts most no one else has had while parsing and arsing this fabled beast called poetry.

Don’t believe me? Check out Archibald MacLeish’s go at it:

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.

 

I don’t know about you, but I like this definition of poetry. As the Beatles (or what’s left of them) like to say: “Let it be.”

And if you’re looking for deeper meaning, find a beach and pound sand. Archie’s having too much fun telling us what poetry isn’t. Or maybe what it is but no one in their right mind ever would have guessed it is (poetry being for left minds, as you know).

Got it? Then good luck and get writing.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “A Poem Should Be…

  1. Pingback: My Own Ars Poetica – noblethemes

  2. very definite personification of poetry should be like.. Agreat effort to identify the true meaning of what poem should be . Thanx for sharing
    regards
    read my posts including todays post SHE IS MY LOVE.
    BRIJKAULDIARY.COM

    Like

  3. MacLeish’s view is a bit confusing because of the poetic language. Hmm. I’d say poetry has little restriction. Just has to have some feature tied with poetry or the other. For example, a poem may not have rhyme but may have rhythm. A poem may not be emotional but it talks about some aspect of life. A poem may not use rhyme or rhythm but use figures of speech and a stanzaic structure. So yeah. 🙂

    I don’t think I’ve written my own Ars Poetica, but I think I remember writing a poem on poems. Perhaps the feelings it evokes for me (could be taken as didactic, I suppose). I liked the “ars” pun you made. Haha. Thanks for the article though. Got me thinking. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s