Nov 22

Poetry as Art.

A poem written by Archibald MacLeish, titled ARS POETICA, is useful as an example of what one poet believes poetry is.

From the Latin; Ars = art + Poetica = poetry = poetry as art.

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

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.


To me this poem is a fine reflection of what good poetry is. Stated in a more analytical way, I believe that a poem should incite something in us. It should stimulate an emotion, a feeling, a sense that we are able to recognize beauty through the arrangement of words expressing thoughts, visions, or events.

Go to this post and follow the many informative links within to learn more about poetry, how to study poetry, how to write poetry, a list of great poems and more.

A few other interesting phrases from Latin related to the art and poetry;

poeta nascitur , non fit. – translated to English ~ the poet is born, not made.

ars longa, vita brevis – translation ~ art is long, life is short.

ars est celare artem – art consists of concealing art; when creative artistry proves truly successful, one does not notice the art (the skill) that has gone into the creative process.


What does poetry mean for you? What makes great poetry? What makes great art?

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