Archibald MacLeish
Ars Poetica (1926)

1

A poem should be palpable and mute

2

As a globed fruit,

 

 

3

Dumb

4

As old medallions to the thumb,

 

 

5

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone

6

Of casement ledges where the moss has grown --

 

 

7

A poem should be wordless

8

As the flight of birds.

   

 

*

   

9

A poem should be motionless in time

10

As the moon climbs,

 

 

11

Leaving, as the moon releases

12

Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

 

 

13

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,

14

Memory by memory the mind--

 

 

15

A poem should be motionless in time

16

As the moon climbs.

   

 

*

   

17

A poem should be equal to:

18

Not true.

 

 

19

For all the history of grief

20

An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

 

 

21

For love

22

The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea--

 

 

23

A poem should not mean

24

But be.